37 Coleman

Change of the Century

Ornette Coleman (b. 1930) helped to launch the "free jazz" revolution between the 50's and 60's. His first recordings were notable but what he is perhaps better known are his records such as Change of the Century (1959). Coleman and his quartet improvised freely, without preset key, melody, chord progressions, or meter, creating an abstract sound that would influence young groups such as the AACM as well as veteran musicians.

"There is no simple right way to play jazz" (253). As one will find in any creative field, there are many ways to go about doing something similar. By confining an art form to a single method, one would be draining the genre of potential further expression. It is the sort of technical thinking and breaking-down of art many believe take away from the enjoyment of it. "You can't intellectualize music; to reduce it analytically often is to reduce it to nothing very important" (254). This reminds me of some of the Sound vs Noise entries; to define is to destroy.

"Modern jazz, once so daring and revolutionary, has become, in many respects, a rather settled and conventional thing" (253). Perhaps this again ties into the destructive analysis. As more people try to define the genre it becomes constrained and more rigidly structured. Coleman wishes to break free of what has come to be expected of modern jazz.

"The idea of group improvisation, in itself, is not at all new" (253) but the prescribed times for improvisation are typically arranged beforehand and are expected. Coleman's group utilizes pure improvisation. Nothing is prescribed. All is spur of the moment, a unique collaboration. "The musicians have complete freedom, and so, of course, our final results depend entirely on the musicianship, emotional make-up and taste of the individual members" (254). The important aspect is the feeling, not method or structure. Musicians feed off of each other and the audience to create an abstract sound that is meant to be experienced 'in the moment', not from a mental distance.

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