Ornette Coleman

Essential Albums

  • The Shape of Jazz to Come

Artist Playlists

About Ornette Coleman

A fearless innovator, saxophonist, and composer, Ornette Coleman turned the jazz world upside down with his keening tone, polyrhythmic melodies, and harmolodic system. His revolutionary Atlantic albums, including 1959's The Shape of Jazz to Come and 1961's Free Jazz, liberated jazz from chord changes, fixed rhythms, and conventional harmony. His harmolodic system -- which he employed on albums as diverse as 1972's large-scale work Skies of America and the electric jazz-funk of 1976's Dancing in Your Head -- rejected lone soloists improvising over accompanists in favor of ensemble players improvising simultaneously around evolving melodic and rhythmic patterns. Always looking to expand his -- and jazz's -- horizons, he recorded 1987's Song X with Pat Metheny and the double-LP In All Languages with his original quartet and Prime Time. Though his final album, Sound Grammar, appeared in 2007, he continued to play until his 2015 death robbed jazz of one of its true innovators.

Fort Worth, TX, United States
March 9, 1930

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