“In the history of jazz innovators – a genre defined by innovators – Ornette Coleman is a mountain.
Coleman, a saxophonist and composer, violinist and trumpeter, led by example. In the 50s and 60s, he was one of the musical pioneers leading the charge on the distinct, sometimes wild sound of avant garde jazz.
His music was heavy on improvisation (he inspired the term “free jazz,” even if his music wasn’t exactly free jazz). He got kicked out of his high school marching band for improvising. But he also wrote song anchored in melodies and structures familiar to a broader audience.
And his output was incredible. Nearly 5 dozen albums as a bandleader, tens more as a sideman.
He passed away in June at age 85. Now The Jazz Workshop, a loose collection of Maine jazz musicians, is putting on a tribute show on July 30th at SPACE Gallery in Portland.“