Jazz Saxophonist, Composer + Lou Reed Collaborator Ornette Coleman Dies at Age 85
Legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman died today (June 11) from a cardiac arrest, according to The New York Times. He was 85.
Througout his work in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, Coleman became recognized as one of the foremost innovators in jazz, composing songs that broke with genre standards and challenged traditional notions of rhythm. The alto saxophonist produced an expansive catalog that notably includes 1958’s Something Else!!!!, 1959’s The Shape of Jazz to Come and 1961’s Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Coleman collaborated with countless jazz musicians in his own band, along with Charlie Haden and Don Cherry. He also worked with the likes of Yoko Ono and Jerry Garcia.
Coleman’s singular vision of free jazz also inspired much of Lou Reed’s own work with the Velvet Underground and led to a fruitful creative partnership between the two musicians. Coleman eventually contributed to Reed’s 2003 concept album, The Raven, based on the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Listen to “Guilty” below:
“When I started out, I was inspired by people like Ornette Coleman,” Reed once said of the saxophonist (via the Guardian). “He has always been a great influence.”
In 2007, Coleman received the Pulitzer Prize for his album, Sound Grammar, as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.