Favorite Video of the Week: Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman-Times Square

In the early 90s, mainly due to the influence of my cooler hipper friends and because of the bands we were listening to at the time, I became a semi-follower of the free jazz genre. I can’t say I really enjoyed listening to most of the records I collected but there was something about the music that kept me interested. I think it was the moment when the dissonant chaos turned into discordant melody – it was those little hooks that always pulled me in.

Ornette Coleman was one of my favorite free jazz artists, I tried my best to get into the stylings of musicians like the Brötzmanns but I admit, it’s the fellas from this side of the world I found more palatable. Eric Dolphy and improv master Pharoah Sanders are also favorites.

I love this clip and how the song starts off funky and we’re all thinking it’s time to shake your booty but then quickly turns into Coleman’s notorious all over the place crazy sax. If Los Angeles is to be represented by a type of jazz, I say Ornette Coleman would be the sound of the city with a little Poncho Sanchez thrown in for good measure.

By the way, as I was writing this post and listening to Ornette Coleman, a friend walked by and asked “What happened? Did your computer freeze?” referring to the song. Har har.

Dog Faced Hermans-Timebomb

Bonus! A song by Dog Faced Hermans who were one of the bands I mentioned earlier that were very influenced by Ornette Coleman and who through their music, led me to the world of free jazz. Seeing Dog Faced Hermans play live was an unforgettable experience.

2 thoughts on “Favorite Video of the Week: Ornette Coleman

  1. human says:

    there’s an interesting conversation between harvey pekar (american splendor) and robert crumb at the pekar project (smithmag dot net slash pekarproject) about how the mainstream used to catch up to the avant garde, but doesn’t really anymore. ornette may have been the last good example of the avant garde catching mainstream’s eyes. but i don’t know, are they just not in touch with what today’s avant garde is? or is mainstream just too big? a lot more non-mainstream artists reach 100,000 pairs of ears now than back in the day, when that might have been considered mainstream.

    regardless, this is a great intro to ornette for the uninitiated.

  2. Chimatli says:

    That sounds like an interesting conversation. Every sub-cultural movement seems to be recuperated into the mainstream rather quickly and not always due to cultural reasons but to drive consumer tastes. I have no idea what’s avant-garde anymore.
    Thanks for this, I’m going to be thinking about it…

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