RIP Ornette

Ornette_ColemanWKCR is playing one full week of Ornette Coleman music, right now. It ends Wednesday, June 17, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

The Columbia radio station is known for playing day-long tributes to artists on their birthdays — and for this kind of massive marathon when one of the greats leaves us.

So, now’s the time to tune in WKCR, and listen, and remember (or learn). They’re playing things from all over Ornette’s career. A few minutes, it was the familiar crooked-line non-bop partying of Ornette’s familiar alto sax. Right now, there are some dense, symphonic strings that might be part of Skies of America.

Here’s a snippet of the station’s blog entry about the marathon:

Join us as we honor the life, the genius, and the work of Ornette Coleman, who passed away Thursday, June 11th at the age of 85 in Manhattan. Born on March 9th 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas, Coleman would become an important voice and major innovator in the avant-garde jazz movement, with a career that spanned over 55 years. It is with a heavy heart that we announce the Ornette Coleman Memorial Broadcast. The Broadcast will be continuous from Thursday, June 11th until Wednesday, June 17th at 9:30 AM. All regular programming will be preempted during this time.

Coleman shaped the future of jazz. He questioned preconceived notions of what jazz was and what it could be. It is important not only to recognize Coleman for his music, but to acknowledge the abstract and theoretical of the philosopher and avant-gardist that was Ornette Coleman. He is a beacon of light in history symbolizing pure originality. 

… Ornette Coleman, the pioneering alto saxophonist and composer, will forever be remembered and the waves he made will never cease to ripple.

The photo, by the way, comes from the web site of musician Sam Newsome, where he’s posted a 1997 interview of Ornette conducted by Jacques Derrida.

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