From Issue 5 of extempore (get your copy here)
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Ornette Coleman often talks about ‘playing ideas’ on his saxophone. What ultimately lifts his idiosyncratic musical concept of harmolodics (one part harmony, one part motion and one part melody) above and beyond the braying chaos of the usual free jazz is his uncanny sense of melody. While a pair of basses burble and boil like a cauldron of sonic goulash beneath his crying horn, his son Denardo employs a smorgasbord of beats, starting and stopping in rhythmic fits with arms akimbo and cymbals splashing. Coleman’s bleating white alto brims with a range of human emotions…
An excerpt from this 2008 interview…
Ornette: I know that sounds pretty crazy. The amazing thing is that life is invisible. The human being lives only off invisible matter, which it turns into life. Life doesn’t have a particular image or order or a container or smell. The concept of life is not an object. It’s not a distance. The title ‘life’ is only a description. It doesn’t tell you what it is. Whatever you call ‘life’ is dated and only used for what you have to do every day. But the name of life is not the origin of life. The real problem of life is it being a word until you do something about it not being a word.
John: The Bible talks about the Word—in the beginning was the Word, then the Word was made flesh.
Ornette: Right, uh-huh…
John: Did you know [painter/writer] Brion Gysin? He used to talk about rubbing out the word, to ultimately be free of it.
Ornette: Oooh! [Laughs] Well, he was right!
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John Kruth, whose books include To Live’s To Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt, (winner of 2008’s ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award) as well as Bright Moments – The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, is a multi-instrumentalist with nine solo albums to his credit. His current musical project is the nine-piece world beat ensemble TriBeCaStan. As a sideman Kruth has worked with Laurie Anderson, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Shepard, John Cale, the Master Musicians of Jajouka, the Violent Femmes, and Garth Hudson and Rick Danko (of the Band). He lives in New York City and Split, Croatia.