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Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman (born March 19, 1930) is an American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz movement of the 1960s. Coleman's timbre is easily recognized: his keening, crying sound draws heavily on blues music. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music. Coleman was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, where he began performing R and bebop initially on tenor saxophone. Seeking a way to work his way out of his home town, he took a job in 1949 with a Silas Green from New Orleans traveling show and then with touring rhythm and blues shows. After a show in Baton Rouge, he was assaulted and his saxophone was destroyed. He switched to alto, which has remained his primary instrument, first playing it in New Orleans after the Baton Rouge incident. He then joined the band of Pee Wee Crayton and travelled with them to Los Angeles. He worked at various jobs, including as an elevator operator, while still pursuing his musical career. Even from the beginning of Coleman's career, his music and playing were in many ways unorthodox.


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