Coleman, (Randolph Denard) Ornette
- Gunther Schuller
(b Fort Worth, TX, March 9, 1930; d New York, NY, June 11, 2015). American jazz alto saxophonist and composer.
He began playing alto saxophone at the age of 14, and developed a style influenced predominantly by Charlie Parker. His early professional work with a variety of South-western rhythm and blues and carnival bands, however, seems to have been in a more traditional idiom. In 1948 he moved to New Orleans and worked mostly at non-musical jobs. By 1950 he had returned to Fort Worth, after which he went to Los Angeles with Pee Wee Crayton’s rhythm and blues band. Wherever he tried to introduce some of his more personal and innovative ideas, he met with hostility, both from audiences and from musicians. While working as a lift operator in Los Angeles, he studied (on his own) harmony and theory textbooks, and gradually evolved a radically new concept and style, seemingly from a combination of musical intuition, born of South-western country blues and folk forms, and his misreadings – or highly personal interpretations – of the theoretical texts....