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Ornette Coleman dies

Published 11/06/2015

Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman

Iconic jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman has passed away at the age of 85.

The iconic jazz musician, whose primary instrument was the alto saxophone, died at the age of 85 in New York on Thursday morning.

His publicist Ken Weinstein confirmed to BBC News the musician met his demise after suffering from cardiac arrest.

Ornette is one of the most influential players in modern jazz. His 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come is highly lauded and is considered to be one of the most innovative records of all time. Ornette’s influence on the genre is immeasurable, as he popularised the ‘free jazz’ method, which focuses on instrumental improvisation, in the 1960s.

He was known for sharing his musical motto with fans before commencing every show.

"I'd like to go out in space tonight,” Ornette normally told audience members before his concerts.

Ornette was also known for being the mastermind behind a musical approach he dubbed ‘harmolodics’, which breaks free from traditional harmonic structure. According to the New York Daily News harmolodics was intended to be a catalyst for “removing the caste system from music”.

"The whole notion of postmodern jazz is essentially his creation," veteran jazz critic and author Will Friedwald said of Ornette, according to USA Today. "But he is very different from other jazz innovators in one key aspect: Musicians influenced by Charlie Parker tend to play like Charlie Parker, but most of the musicians who were inspired by Coleman sound nothing like him."

Ornette is survived by his son Denardo, a drummer and producer who began performing music with his father at the age of ten.

© Cover Media

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