sábado, 17 de septiembre de 2011

Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963), born Ruth Lee Jones, was a blues, R&B and jazz singer. She has been cited as "the most popular black female recording artist of the '50s", and called "The Queen of the Blues". She is a 1986 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Ruth Jones was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Chicago as a child. Dinah became deeply involved in gospel and played piano for the choir in St. Luke's Baptist Church while she was still in elementary school. She sang gospel music in church and played piano, directing her church choir in her teens and being a member of the Sallie Martin Gospel Singers. She sang lead with the first female gospel singers formed by Ms Martin, who was co-founder of the Gospel Singers Convention. Jones' involvement with the gospel choir occurred after she won an amateur contest at Chicago's Regal Theater where she sang "I Can't Face the Music".
After winning a talent contest at the age of 15, she began performing in clubs. By 1941-42 she was performing in such Chicago clubs as Dave's Rhumboogie and the Downbeat Room of the Sherman Hotel (with Fats Waller).

She was playing at the Three Deuces, a jazz club, when a friend took her to hear Billie Holiday at the Garrick Stage Bar. Joe Sherman was so impressed with her singing of "I Understand", backed by The Cats & The Fiddle, who were appearing in the Garrick's upstairs room, that he immediately hired her. During her year at the Garrick - she sang upstairs while Holiday performed in the downstairs room - she acquired the name by which she became known. Joe Sherman is generally credited with suggesting the change from Ruth Jones, but both Joe Glaser, the booker-manager who brought Lionel Hampton to hear Dinah at the Garrick, and Hampton himself have occasionally been given the responsibility for the name change.[citation needed] Hampton's visit brought an offer, and Dinah went to work as his female vocalist in 1943 after she had sung with the band for its opening at the Chicago Regal Theatre. She sang with the Hampton band for two years.
She made her recording debut for the Keynote label that December with "Evil Gal Blues", written by Leonard Feather and backed by Hampton and musicians from his band, including Joe Morris (trumpet) and Milt Buckner (piano). Both that record and its follow-up, "Salty Papa Blues", made Billboard's "Harlem Hit Parade" in 1944.
She stayed with Hampton's band until 1946 and, after the Keynote label folded, signed for Mercury Records as a solo singer. Her first record for Mercury, a version of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'", was another hit, starting a long string of success. Between 1948 and 1955, she had 27 R&B top ten hits, making her one of the most popular and successful singers of the period. Both "Am I Asking Too Much" (1948) and "Baby Get Lost" (1949) reached # 1 on the R&B chart, and her version of "I Wanna Be Loved" (1950) crossed over to reach # 22 on the US pop chart. Her hit recordings included blues, standards, novelties, pop covers, and even a version of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart" (R&B # 3, 1951). At the same time as her biggest popular success, she also recorded sessions with many leading jazz musicians, notably Clifford Brown on the 1954 live album Dinah Jams, and also recorded with Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, and Ben Webster.
In 1959, she had her first top ten pop hit, with a version of "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes", which made # 4 on the US pop chart. Her band at that time included arranger Belford Hendricks, with Kenny Burrell (guitar), Joe Zawinul (piano), and Panama Francis (drums). She followed it up with a version of Nat "King" Cole's "Unforgettable", and then two highly successful duets in 1960 with Brook Benton, "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (# 5 pop, # 1 R&B) and "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love) (# 7 pop, # 1 R&B). Her last big hit was "September in the Rain" in 1961 (# 23 pop, 5 R&B).

Washington was well known for singing torch songs. In 1962, Dinah hired a male backing trio called the Allegros, consisting of Jimmy Thomas on drums, Earl Edwards on sax, and Jimmy Sigler on organ. Edwards was eventually replaced on sax by John Payne. A Variety writer praised their vocals as "effective choruses".
Dinah Washington's achievements included appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival (1955–59), the Randalls Island Jazz Festival in New York City (1959), and the International Jazz Festival in Washington D.C. (1962), frequent gigs at Birdland (1958, 1961–62), and performances in 1963 with Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
Performing at the London Palladium, with Queen Elizabeth sitting in a box, Dinah told the audience: "There is but one Heaven, one Hell, one queen, and your Elizabeth is an imposter." Imperious was the word for Dinah.
Washington was married eight times and divorced seven times, while having several lovers, including, according to Patti Austin, Quincy Jones. She had two children. Her husbands were John Young (1942–43), George Jenkins (1949), Walter Buchanan (1950), saxophonist Eddie Chamblee (1957), Rafael Campos (1957), Horatio Maillard (1959–60), Jackie Hayes (1960), and Dick "Night Train" Lane (1963).
Early on the morning of December 14, 1963, Washington's eighth husband Lane went to sleep with his wife, and awoke later to find her slumped over and not responsive.
Doctor B. C. Ross came to the scene to pronounce her dead. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of secobarbital and amobarbital which contributed to her death at the age of 39. She is buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.



Ruth Lee Jones (Tuscaloosa, 29-8-1924 - Detroit, 14-12-1963), Dinah Washington, cantante estadounidense de rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, y pop.
Ha influido en varias cantantes destacables de su generación, como Nancy Wilson, Esther Phillips y Diane Schuur.
Su voz es potente y estridente, con un tono algo metálico y con un insistente vibrato; de absoluta claridad en la dicción, su entonación es la propia de una cantante de blues. Fue la primera estilista que se incorporó al canto gospel (como vocalista y pianista con los Sallie Martin Singers), lo que le permitió permear toda su carrera con estas raíces musicales. Su constante fluctuar estilístico ha sido uno de los aspectos que más se le ha censurado, al reprochársele el despilfarro de su talento vocal en productos comerciales y de baja calidad que, no obstante, la proporcionaron un enorme éxito popular.
Dinah Washington expresó en sus letras y conciertos las aspiraciones y decepciones de la comunidad negra, siempre con un cierto humor sardónico.
El origen de su nombre es discutido; algunas fuentes indican que es obra del manager del Garrick Stage Bar, uno de los clubes donde empezó a cantar; otras dicen que fue Lionel Hampton quien lo eligió.
Nacida en una familia con ciertos intereses musicales, su madre tocaba el piano en la St. Luke’s Baptist Church, con tres o cuatro años se traslada a Chicago y, posteriormente, se forma en el ambiente musical del gospel, tocando el piano y dirigiendo el coro de la iglesia.

Con 15 años, gana un concurso aficionado en el Regal Theatre. Son los espirituales sus primeros intereses musicales, asociándose a un pionero del gospel como Sallie Martin en 1940 para acompañarle a lo largo de una gira. Después, empieza a actuar en nightclubs como pianista y cantante, comenzando en el Garrick Bar en 1942. Allí la escucha el manager de jóvenes talentos Joe Glaser y se la recomienda a Lionel Hampton, quien la invita a unirse a su banda. Estuvo en ella entre 1943 y 1946 e hizo su debut en disco para Keynote a finales de 1943 en una sesión de blues organizada por Leonard Feather. La grabación fue un éxito y, con el tiempo, abandonó a Hampton para interpretar en solitario. Antes de que terminase el año, grabó tres sesiones en Los Ángeles para el sello Apollo antes de firmar con Mercury, con la que grabaría su primera sesión en enero de 1946. Con esta compañía se convertiría en una de las estrellas del rhythm and blues entre 1948 y 1955. Cantó blues, estándares, pop, etc. Grabó también muchas sesiones de jazz con big bands y pequeños combos, siendo las más memorables con Clifford Brown, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Ben Webster, Wynton Kelly y Joe Zawinul.
En 1959, consiguió un gran éxito en el mercado pop con "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes". El resto de su carrera se concentró en las baladas, respaldadas por una juvenil orquestación y grabadas para Mercury y Roulette, al estilo de Ray Charles. Luchando con un problema de peso, Washington murió por una sobredosis accidental de píldoras de dieta mezcladas con alcohol a los 39 años. Dejaba a sus espaldas una conflictiva vida sentimental, con siete matrimonios por el medio.

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2011

Julie London

Julie London (September 26, 1926 – October 18, 2000) was an American singer and actress. She was best known for her smoky, sensual voice. London was at her singing career's peak in the 1950s. Her acting career lasted more than 35 years. It concluded with the female lead role of nurse Dixie McCall on the television series Emergency! (1972–1979), co-starring her best friend Robert Fuller and her real-life husband Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband Jack Webb.
Born Gayle Peck in Santa Rosa, California, she was the daughter of Jack and Josephine Peck, who were a vaudeville song-and-dance team. When she was 14, the family moved to Los Angeles. Shortly after that, she began appearing in movies. She graduated from the Hollywood Professional School in 1945.
In July 1947 she married actor Jack Webb (of Dragnet fame). Her widely regarded beauty and poise (she was a pinup girl prized by GIs during World War II) contrasted strongly with his pedestrian appearance and streetwise acting technique (much parodied by impersonators). This unlikely pairing arose from their mutual love for jazz. They had two daughters: Stacy and Lisa Webb. London and Webb divorced in November 1954. Daughter Stacy Webb was killed in a traffic accident in 1996.
In 1954, having become somewhat reclusive after her divorce from Webb, she met jazz composer and musician Bobby Troup at a club on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. They married on December 31, 1959, and remained married until his death in February 1999. They had one daughter, Kelly Troup, who died in March 2002, and twin sons, Jody and Reese Troup.
London suffered a stroke in 1995 and was in poor health until her death on October 18, 2000, in Encino, California, at age 74. Survived by three of her five children, London was interred next to Troup in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery, Los Angeles. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.


Julie London (26 de septiembre de 1926 - 18 de octubre de 2000) fue una cantante y actriz estadounidense. Mejor conocida por su sensual voz, como cantante alcanzó su cima en la década de los 50, con su principal hit, "Cry me a River", compuesto y producido por su marido, Bobby Troup; mientras que su carrera como actriz duró más de 35 años, terminando con el rol de la enfermera Dixie McCall, en la serie de televisión Emergency! (1972–1979).

Sun Ra

Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a 1979 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
"Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial," critic Scott Yanow said, because of Sun Ra's eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle. Claiming that he was of the "Angel Race" and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee. Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."
From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led "The Arkestra" (a deliberate re-spelling of "orchestra"), an ensemble with an ever-changing lineup and name. It was by turns called "The Solar Myth Arkestra", "His Cosmo Discipline Arkestra", the "Blue Universe Arkestra", "The Jet Set Omniverse Arkestra", as well as many other permutations. Sun Ra asserted that the ever-changing name of his ensemble reflected the ever-changing nature of his music. His mainstream success was limited, but Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer. His music ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians and touched on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz. He was also a pioneer of electronic music and space music. He also used free improvisation and was one of the first musicians, of any genre, to make extensive use of electronic keyboards.


For decades, very little was known about Sun Ra's early life, much of it being obscured by Sun Ra himself. He routinely gave evasive, contradictory or seemingly nonsensical answers to personal questions and even denied his birth name. His birthday for years remained unknown, his birth year being claimed as years ranging from 1910 to 1918. Only a few years before his death, the date of Sun Ra's birth remained a mystery. Jim Macnie's notes for Blue Delight (1989) could only state that Sun Ra was believed to be about 75 years old. However, Ra's biographer John F. Szwed was able to uncover a wealth of information about Ra's early life, including confirming a May 22, 1914 birth date. Named after the popular vaudeville stage magician Black Herman, who had deeply impressed his mother, Sun Ra would speculate, only half in jest, that he was distantly related to Elijah Poole, later famous as Elijah Muhammed, leader of the Nation of Islam. He was nicknamed "Sonny" from his childhood, had an older sister and half-brother, and was doted upon by his mother and grandmother.
Sun Ra was a skilled pianist as a child. By 11 or 12 years old he was writing original songs,[6] and was able to sight read sheet music. Birmingham was an important stop for touring musicians, and he saw famous musicians like Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, along with less-famous performers who were often just as talented as their better-known peers, with Sun Ra once stating "the world let down a lot of good musicians". In his teenage years, Sun Ra demonstrated prodigious musical talent: many times, according to acquaintances, he would see big band performances and produce full transcriptions of the bands' songs from memory. By his mid-teens Sun Ra was performing semi-professionally as a solo pianist, or as a member of various ad hoc jazz and R&B groups. He attended Birmingham's Industrial High School (now known as Parker High School) where he studied under famed music teacher John T. "Fess" Whatley, a demanding disciplinarian who was widely respected and whose classes produced many professional musicians.
At ten years old Sun Ra joined the Knights of Pythias, and remained a member until he graduated from high school. His family was deeply religious but was not formally associated with any Christian church or sect. Ra had few or no close friends in high school but was remembered as kind-natured and quiet, an honor roll student, and a voracious reader. The Black Masonic Lodge was one of the few places in Birmingham where African-Americans had essentially unlimited access to books, and the Lodge's many books on Freemasonry and other esoteric concepts made a large impression on him.
Also by his teens, Sun Ra suffered from cryptorchidism, a chronic testicular hernia that left him with a nearly constant discomfort that sometimes flared into severe pain. Szwed suggests that the condition left Blount with a sense of shame and increased his sense of isolation.

In 1934 Blount was offered his first full-time musical job when Industrial High School Biology teacher Ethel Harper organized a band and decided to pursue a career as a singer. Blount joined a musicians' trade union and Harper's group toured through the US southeast and Midwest. Harper left the group mid-tour to move to New York (she later was a member of the modestly successful singing group the Ginger Snaps), and Blount took over leadership of the group, renaming it the Sonny Blount Orchestra. They continued touring for several months before dissolving the unprofitable group. Though the first edition of the Sonny Blount Orchestra was not financially successful, they earned positive notice from fans and other musicians, and Blount afterwards found steady employment in Birmingham.
The clubs of Birmingham often featured exotic trappings such as vivid lighting and murals with tropical or oasis scenes that were believed to have influenced Sun Ra's later stage shows. The big bands also imparted a sense of pride and togetherness to black musicians: musicians were highly regarded in the black community, and were expected to be disciplined and presentable, and in the segregated south, black musicians arguably had the most acceptance in white society, often performing for white high society audiences (though they were typically forbidden from associating with the audiences).
In 1936 Whatley's intercession led to Blount being awarded a scholarship at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. He was a music education major, studying composition, orchestration, and music theory, but after a year, he dropped out.
Even putting Blount's strange vision aside, after leaving college, he became known as perhaps the most singularly devoted musician in Birmingham. He rarely slept, citing Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and Napoleon as fellow highly productive cat-nappers. He transformed the first floor of his family's home into a conservatory-workshop where he wrote songs, transcribed recordings, rehearsed with the many musicians who were nearly constantly drifting in and out, and discussed Biblical and esoteric concepts with whomever was interested.
Blount became a regular at Birmingham's Forbes Piano Company, a white-owned company which—astoundingly for a business in the Deep South—simply ignored the strict Jim Crow laws of the racially segregated era. Blount visited the Forbes building almost daily to play music, swap ideas with staff and customers, or copy sheet music into his notebooks. He formed a new band, and, like his old teacher Whatley, insisted on rigorous daily rehearsals. The new Sonny Blount Orchestra earned a reputation as an impressive, disciplined band that could play in a wide variety of styles with equal skill.
In October 1942 Blount received a selective service notification that he had been drafted into the Military of the United States. He quickly declared himself a conscientious objector, citing religious objections to war and killing, his financial support of his great-aunt Ida, and his chronic hernia. His case was rejected by the local draft board, and in his appeal to the national draft board, Blount wrote that the lack of black men on the draft appeal board "smacks of Hitlerism". His family was deeply embarrassed by Sonny's refusal to join the military, and he was effectively ostracized by many of his relatives. Blount was eventually approved for alternate service at Civilian Public Service camp in Pennsylvania. However, Blount didn't appear at the camp as scheduled on December 8, 1942, and shortly thereafter, he was arrested in Alabama.
In court, Blount declared that even alternate service was unacceptable to him, and he debated the judge on points of law and Biblical interpretation. Though sympathetic to Blount, the judge also declared that he was clearly in violation of the law, and was risking forcible induction into the U.S. Military. Blount declared that if he were inducted, he would use his military weapons and training to kill the first high-ranking military officer he could. The judge sentenced Blount to jail (pending draft board and CPS rulings), and then declared "I've never seen a nigger like you before;" Blount replied, "No, and you never will again."
In January 1943 a desperate Blount wrote to the United States Marshals Service from the Walker County, Alabama jail in Jasper. He said he was facing a nervous breakdown from the stress of imprisonment, that he was suicidal, and that he was in constant fear of sexual assault. His conscientious objector status was eventually reaffirmed in February 1943 and Blount was escorted to Pennsylvania where he conducted forestry work in the day and was allowed to play piano at night. Psychiatrists there described him as "a psychopathic personality [and] sexually perverted" but also as "a well-educated colored intellectual".

In March 1943 Blount was classified as 4-F because of his hernia. He returned to Birmingham embittered and angered by his experiences. He formed a new band and quickly was playing professionally. After his beloved great-aunt Ida died in 1945, Blount felt no reason to stay in Birmingham. He dissolved the band, and moved to Chicago, part of the wave of southern African Americans who moved north during and after World War II.
In Chicago Blount quickly found work, notably with blues singer Wynonie Harris, with whom he made his recording debut on two 1946 singles, "Dig This Boogie/Lightning Struck the Poorhouse" and "My Baby's Barrelhouse"/"Drinking By Myself;" "Dig This Boogie" was also Blount's first recorded piano solo. He performed with the locally successful Lil Green band and played bump-and-grind music for months in Calumet City strip clubs.
In August 1946, Blount earned a lengthy engagement at the Club DeLisa under bandleader and composer Fletcher Henderson. Blount had long admired Henderson, but Henderson's fortunes were fading (his band was now made of up middling musicians rather than the stars of earlier years) in large part because of his instability. Henderson hired Blount as pianist and arranger, replacing Marl Young. Ra's arrangements initially showed a degree of bebop influence, but the band members resisted the new music, despite Henderson's encouragement.
In 1948 Blount performed briefly in a trio with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and violinist Stuff Smith, both preeminent swing-era musicians. There are no known recordings of this trio, but a home recording of a Blount-Smith duet from 1948 or 1949 appears on Sound Sun Pleasure, and one of Sun Ra's final recordings was a rare sideman appearance on violinist Billy Bang's Tribute to Stuff Smith.
In addition to professional advancement, Chicago also changed Blount's personal outlook. The city was a center of African American political activism and fringe movements, with Black Muslims, Black Hebrews, and others proselytizing, debating, and printing leaflets or books. Blount absorbed it all and was fascinated with the city's many ancient Egyptian-styled buildings and monuments. He read books like George G.M. James's Stolen Legacy (which argued that classical Greek philosophy actually had its roots in ancient Egypt), which convinced Blount that the accomplishments and history of Africans had been systematically suppressed and denied by European cultures.
By 1952 Blount was leading the Space Trio with drummer Tommy "Bugs" Hunter and saxophonist Pat Patrick, two of the most accomplished musicians he had known. They performed regularly and Sun Ra began writing more advanced songs.
On October 20, 1952 Blount legally changed his name to Le Sony'r Ra. Sun Ra claimed[15] to have always been uncomfortable with his birth name of Blount, seeing it as a slave name of a family that he was not really a member of. One observer has argued that this change was similar to the way "Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali … [dropped] their slave names in the process of attaining a new self-awareness and self-esteem".
Patrick left the group to move to Florida with his new wife; not long after, Patrick's friend John Gilmore (tenor sax) joined the group, and Marshall Allen (alto sax) soon joined the fold. Patrick was in and out of the group until the end of his life, but Allen and Gilmore—who would both earn critical praise for their talents—were the two most devoted members of the Arkestra. Saxophonist James Spaulding and trombonist Julian Priester also recorded with Sun Ra in Chicago, and both went on to notable careers of their own. The Chicago tenorist Von Freeman also did a short stint with the band of the early 1950s.

In Chicago, Blount met Alton Abraham, a precociously intelligent teenager and something of a kindred spirit who became the Arkestra's biggest booster and one of Sun Ra's closest friends. The men both felt like outsiders and shared an interest in fringe esoterica. Abraham's strengths balanced Ra's shortcomings: though he was a disciplined bandleader, Sun Ra was somewhat introverted and lacked business sense (a trait that would haunt his entire career); Abraham was outgoing, well-connected, and practical. Though still a teenager, Abraham eventually became Sun Ra's de facto business manager: he booked performances, suggested musicians for the Arkestra, and introduced several popular songs into the group's repertoire. Ra, Abraham and others formed a sort of book club to trade ideas and discuss the offbeat topics that so intrigued them. This group printed a number of pamphlets and broadsides explaining their conclusions and ideas; some of these were collected by critic John Corbett and Anthony Elms as The Wisdom of Sun Ra: Sun Ra's Polemical Broadsheets and Streetcorner Leaflets (2006).
Sun Ra and Abraham also formed an independent record label in the mid-1950s; it was generally known as El Saturn Records, though (as with the Arkestra) there were several variants of the name. Initially focused on 45 rpm singles by Sun Ra and artists related to him, Saturn Records did issue two full-length albums during the 1950s: Super-Sonic Jazz (1957) and Jazz In Silhouette (1959). Producer Tom Wilson was actually the first to release a Sun Ra album, through his independent label Transition Records in 1957, entitled Jazz by Sun Ra.
It was during the late 1950s that Sun Ra and his band began wearing the outlandish, Egyptian-styled or science fiction-themed costumes and headdresses for which they would become known. These costumes had multiple purposes: they evidenced Sun Ra's abiding fascination with ancient Egypt and the space age; they provided a sort of distinctive, memorable uniform for the Arkestra; they were a way to take on a new identity, at least while onstage; and they provided comic relief (Sun Ra thought avant garde musicians typically took themselves far too seriously).
Sun Ra and some of his core musicians (Allen, Gilmore, and Boykins) left Chicago in July 1961, staying in Montreal through the end of September before settling in New York City. They initially had trouble finding performance venues and began living communally because of New York's higher cost of living. This frustration helped to fuel the drastic changes in the Arkestra's sound as Sun Ra's music underwent a free jazz-influenced experimental period.
In March 1966 the Arkestra scored a regular Monday night gig at Slug's Saloon. This proved to be a breakthrough to new audiences and recognition. Sun Ra's popularity reached an early peak during this period, as the beat generation and early followers of psychedelia embraced him. Regularly for the next year and a half (and intermittently for another half-decade afterwards), Sun Ra and company performed at Slug's for audiences that eventually came to include music critics and notable jazz musicians. Opinions of Sun Ra's music were divided (and hecklers were not uncommon), but high praise came from two of the architects of bebop: trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie offered encouragement, once stating, "Keep it up, Sonny, they tried to do the same shit to me",[19] while pianist Thelonious Monk chided someone who said Sun Ra was "too far out" by responding, "Yeah, but it swings."
In 1971, Sun Ra traveled throughout Egypt and performed with Egyptian drummer Salah Ragab. He would travel again to Egypt in 1983, when he would record with Ragab once more (Sun Ra Meets Salah Ragab).
In 1968, when the New York building they were renting was put up for sale, Sun Ra and the Arkestra relocated to the Germantown section of Philadelphia, where his Morton Street house remained the Arkestra's base of operations until Sun Ra's death. Apart from occasional complaints about the noise of rehearsals, they were soon regarded as good neighbors because of their friendliness, drug-free living, and rapport with youngsters. Saxophonist Danny Thompson owned and operated the Pharaoh's Den, a convenience store in the neighborhood. When lightning struck a tree on their street, Sun Ra took it as a good omen and multireedist James Jacson fashioned the Cosmic Infinity Drum from the scorched tree trunk. They still commuted via railroad to New York for the Monday night gig at Slug's and for other engagements.
In late 1968 Sun Ra and the Arkestra undertook their first tour of the US West Coast. Reactions were mixed; even hippies accustomed to long-form psychedelia like the Grateful Dead were often bewildered by the Arkestra, which included 20–30 musicians, dancers, singers, fire-eaters, and elaborate lighting. John Burks of Rolling Stone wrote a positive review of a San Jose State College concert that led to Sun Ra being featured on the April 19, 1969 cover of the magazine and introducing Sun Ra's inscrutable gaze to millions. This first West Coast tour also led to vibraphonist Damon Choice, then an art student at San Jose, joining the Arkestra.
Starting with concerts in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in 1970, the Arkestra began to find opportunities for working outside the US, playing to audiences who had hitherto known his music only through records. Sun Ra continued playing in Europe to nearly the end of his life. Given Sun Ra's unorthodox financial management, saxophonist Danny Thompson became a de facto tour and business manager during this era, specializing in what he called "no bullshit C.O.D.", preferring to take cash before performing or delivering records.

In early 1971 Sun Ra was artist-in-residence at University of California, Berkeley, teaching a course called "The Black Man In the Cosmos". Rather few students enrolled but the classes were often full of curious persons from the surrounding community. One half-hour of each class was devoted to a lecture (complete with handouts and homework assignments), the other half-hour to an Arkestra performance or Sun Ra keyboard solo. Reading lists included the works of Madame Blavatsky and Henry Dumas, the Book of the Dead, Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, The Book of Oahspe and assorted volumes concerning Egyptian hieroglyphs, African American folklore, and other topics.
In 1971 Sun Ra fulfilled a long-standing desire by performing with the Arkestra at ancient Egyptian pyramids.
In 1972 San Francisco public TV station KQED producer John Coney, producer Jim Newman, and screen writer Joshua Smith worked with Sun Ra to produce an 85-minute feature film, entitled Space Is the Place, with Sun Ra's Arkestra and an ensemble of actors assembled by the production team. It was filmed in Oakland and San Francisco. On May 20, 1978 Sun Ra and the Arkestra appeared on Saturday Night Live.
In the mid-1970s, the Arkestra would sometimes play free Saturday afternoon concerts in a Germantown park near their Philadelphia home. Sometimes at their mid 1970s shows in Philadelphia nightclubs, someone would stand at the back of the room, selling stacks of unmarked LPs in plain white sleeves, pressed from recordings of the band's live performances (including one Halloween show where the salesman was dressed as a golden alien, and the LPs included a cover arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow").
Back in New York City, in the fall of 1979, Sun Ra and the Arkestra were essentially the 'house band' at the notorious Squat Theater on 23rd St.-the performance home of the avant garde Hungarian theater troupe. Their young mastermind manager, Janos, transformed the theater into a riveting nightclub while the core of the troupe was away that season performing in Europe. Debbie Harry, 'The Velvet Underground's' John Cale and Nico (from Andy Warhol's factory days), John Lurie and 'The Lounge Lizards' and other pop and avant garde musicians were regulars. Sun Ra was a disciplined person who avoided drinking anything other than club soda at the gigs, but did not impose his strict code on his musicians, the majority of whom regarded his claim that he was a 'messenger' from Saturn with wry skepticism. Nevertheless it was clear they deeply respected his genius, discipline and authority. Soft spoken and charismatic, Sun Ra turned Squat Theater into a syncopated universe of big band 'space' jazz backed by a floor show of writhing, sexy, Jupiterettes—him directing and playing three synthesizers at the same time. In those days 'Space Is The Place' was the space at Squat.
The Arkestra continued their touring and recording through the 1980s and into the 1990s, and Sun Ra became a fixture in Philadelphia, appearing semi-regularly on WXPN radio, giving lectures to community groups, or haunting the city's libraries.
Even after a stroke in 1990, Sun Ra kept composing, performing, and leading the Arkestra. Late in his career, Sun Ra opened a few concerts for New York–based rock group Sonic Youth. Eventually, Sun Ra grew too ill to perform and tour, and he entrusted Gilmore with leading the Arkestra. (Gilmore himself was frail from emphysema, and when he died, Allen would take over leadership of the Arkestra.) Sun Ra went back to Birmingham and reconnected with his sister whom he had rarely seen for nearly 40 years. He contracted pneumonia, died in Birmingham on May 30, 1993, and was buried at the Elmwood Cemetery. According to the hospital, he had also been affected by circulatory system problems and numerous strokes shortly before his death. The small footstone read only "Sonny Blount (aka [sic] Le Son'y [sic] Ra)".
Following Sun Ra's death, the Arkestra was led by tenor saxophonist John Gilmore. Following Gilmore's death, the group has performed under the direction of alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, who celebrated his 80th birthday on stage during Arkestra performances at the Vox Populi gallery in Philadelphia and the Vision Festival in New York City. In the summer of 2004 the Arkestra became the first American jazz band to perform in Tuva, playing five sets at the Ustuu-Huree Festival. As of May 2008, the Arkestra continues to tour and perform, with captain Marshall Allen celebrating his 84th birthday on stage at New York City's Sullivan Hall. In September 2008 they played for 7 days in a row at the ZXZW festival, every day emphasizing different aspects of the musical legacy of Sun Ra. The Arkestra celebrated Allen's 85th birthday on May 24, 2009 to a packed house at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood. A month later, they performed at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art in conjunction with an exhibition that explored the intersection of the Arkestra's performative legacy and the practice of contemporary art. More recently they ventured to Australia for the first time for the 2011 Melbourne International Jazz Festival, still under the control of the sprightly 87 year old Marshall Allen playing to very enthusiastic sold out crowds.



Herman Sonny Blount (Birmingham - Alabama, 22 de mayo de 1914 - 30 de mayo de 1993), Sun Ra, músico estadounidense de jazz. Figura destacada de la vanguardia jazzística (en sus vertientes experimental, de free jazz y de fusión), tocó el órgano, el piano y el teclado, además de liderar la Sun Ra Arkestra.
Sun Ra fue igualmente un prolífico escritor de poesías, que aparecían en las portadas de los discos o en fanzines editados por él mismo.
De formación autodidacta, aprendió a escribir música a los diez años. Tras algunas experiencias musicales en su ciudad natal, se trasladó a Chicago, donde muy pronto suscitó el interés de los círculos jazzísticos de la ciudad. Fue “fichado” por la Big Band de Fletcher Henderson como arreglista y pianista, y tocó con gran cantidad de músicos de renombre en aquellos años.
Su carrera solista la inició a finales de los años 1940 y principios de los 50 con la formación de pequeños grupos (tríos y cuartetos) con los que actuaba en los locales de entretenimiento de Calumet City, la ciudad de entretenimiento cercana a Chicago donde proliferaban los clubes y casinos.
Muy pronto cambió su nombre por el de Sony’r Ra y, poco después, por el de Sun Ra, que llegaría a figurar en su pasaporte. Y también enseguida, con un núcleo de músicos fieles, formaría la legendaria Sun Ra Arkestra, en activo desde los años 50 hasta la actualidad, aún después del fallecimiento de su fundador.
La Arkestra estuvo siempre influida por la filosofía de Sun Ra, con raíces en la ciencia ficción y los viajes espaciales, en el antiguo Egipto y en teorías filosóficas cabalísticas, siendo en realidad la única banda de jazz basada más en la filosofía que en la música propiamente dicha. Sus apariciones en el escenario constituían un espectáculo único debido a los vestuarios extravagantes, a la mezcla de las distintas ramas del jazz y a la incorporación de elementos audiovisuales, siendo pioneros en este campo.
Sun Ra fue el primer músico de jazz en utilizar todo tipo de instrumentos electrónicos aparte del piano acústico: el piano eléctrico aparece en discos de 1956, habiendo usado posteriormente instrumentos como el rocksichord, los primeros mini-moog, el clavioline, la celesta, los primeros sintetizadores polifónicos, etc. Sun Ra fue también el primer músico de jazz en crear su propio sello discográfico, Saturn Records, a fin de tener libertad para publicar la música que quisiera.

La Sun Ra Arkestra se formó a finales de los 50 en torno a Sun Ra, con el saxofonista tenor John Gilmore, el trombonista Julian Priester, el saxo barítono Pat Patrick y el saxo alto Marshall Allen, actualmente director de la banda. Durante los años en que la Arkestra tuvo su sede en Chicago su repertorio incluía estándares y composiciones propias en un estilo cercano al hard bop, pero donde ya se intuían elementos claves de su estilo, arreglos futuristas y la gran importancia concedida a la percusión.
A principios de los 60, la banda se traslada a Nueva York. Fieles a sus principios viven de forma comunal, dedicados por completo a ensayar y tocar en cualquier club donde se les admita. Sun Ra siempre trató de influir en las vidas privadas de sus músicos, apartándoles de las mujeres, las drogas y el alcohol como si se tratara de un grupo de discípulos alrededor de su gurú. En el aspecto musical, el traslado a Nueva York puso a la banda en el centro de la revolución del jazz de los primeros 60, el llamado free jazz, y en esta época se editaron –siempre en su sello Saturn- los discos más rompedores desde el punto de vista musical: improvisaciones colectivas de una banda de 12 o 14 músicos, solos de sintetizador y unos espectáculos donde había desde bailarinas a comefuegos.
A principios de los 70, la banda hace sus primeras giras por Europa y la primera de sus visitas a Egipto, donde se graban algunos de los discos más imprescindibles para sus seguidores. Es también en estos años donde el estilo de Sun Ra vuelve a sufrir un cambio, orientándose más a una música más eléctrica cercana al acid-jazz. Por esta misma época la banda traslada su residencia desde Nueva York a Filadelfia.
A finales de los 70 y principios de los 80, Sun Ra, quien siempre afirmó haber venido del planeta Saturno en un pasado remoto y permanecer en este planeta para el cumplimiento de la misión de salvar a la humanidad mediante la música, decide un nuevo cambio de estrategia, y empiezan a ser más frecuentes en su repertorio las versiones de clásicos como Ellington, F. Henderson y otros. Versiones impregnadas de su especial sentido filosófico y musical que definen un estilo mucho menos vanguardista. Es la época dorada de la banda, que tras décadas de existencia con ensayos intensivos por parte de los mismos músicos constituye una unidad sin fisuras donde cada uno tiene su papel perfectamente asignado. Las giras por todo el continente europeo se suceden sin interrupción –en Europa tienen más público que en su propio país- y por primera vez aparecen grabaciones de la banda en discográficas que pueden ofrecer mejor distribución que los Saturn, vendidos fundamentalmente tras los conciertos y que por tanto son inaccesibles a la mayor parte de los aficionados.
Durante los 80, Sun Ra perseveró en este estilo más accesible, llegando a ofrecer conciertos íntegramente con versiones de clásicos de Disney, y publicando gran cantidad de discos. En 1991 sufrió una embolia que le paralizó medio cuerpo, pero siguió con su ajetreada vida de músico en constante gira, tocando el piano o los teclados electrónicos con la mano derecha. En 1993 sufrió una segunda embolia, y falleció el 29 de mayo tras unas semanas de agonía.
La Sun Ra Arkestra se puso entonces bajo la batuta de John Gilmore, que también murió unos meses después, y posteriormente bajo la de Marshall Allen, quien a sus 80 años cumplidos en 2004 sigue extendiendo el legado de su mentor por todo el mundo.

jueves, 15 de septiembre de 2011

Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman (born March 9, 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&B 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. His approach to harmony and chord progression was far less rigid than that of bebop performers; he was increasingly interested in playing what he heard rather than fitting it into predetermined chorus-structures and harmonies. His raw, highly vocalized sound and penchant for playing "in the cracks" of the scale led many Los Angeles jazz musicians to regard Coleman's playing as out-of-tune; he sometimes had difficulty finding like-minded musicians with whom to perform. Nevertheless, pianist Paul Bley was an early supporter and musical collaborator.

In 1958 Coleman led his first recording session for Contemporary, Something Else!!!!: The Music of Ornette Coleman. The session also featured trumpeter Don Cherry, drummer Billy Higgins, bassist Don Payne and Walter Norris on piano.
Coleman was very busy in 1959. His last release on Contemporary was Tomorrow Is the Question!, a quartet album, with Shelly Manne on drums, and excluding the piano, which he would not use again until the 1990s. Next Coleman brought double bassist Charlie Haden – one of a handful of his most important collaborators – into a regular group with Haden, Cherry, and Higgins. (All four had played with Paul Bley the previous year.) He signed a multi-album contract with Atlantic Records who released The Shape of Jazz to Come in 1959. It was, according to critic Steve Huey, "a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven't come to grips with." While definitely – if somewhat loosely – blues-based and often quite melodic, the album's compositions were considered at that time harmonically unusual and unstructured. Some musicians and critics saw Coleman as an iconoclast; others, including conductor Leonard Bernstein and composer Virgil Thomson regarded him as a genius and an innovator.
Coleman's quartet received a lengthy – and sometimes controversial – engagement at New York City's famed Five Spot jazz club. Such notable figures as The Modern Jazz Quartet, Leonard Bernstein and Lionel Hampton were favorably impressed, and offered encouragement. (Hampton was so impressed he reportedly asked to perform with the quartet; Bernstein later helped Haden obtain a composition grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.) Opinion was, however, divided: trumpeter Miles Davis famously declared Coleman was "all screwed up inside" (although this comment was later recanted) and Roy Eldridge stated, "I'd listened to him all kinds of ways. I listened to him high and I listened to him cold sober. I even played with him. I think he's jiving baby."
On the Atlantic recordings, Scott LaFaro sometimes replaces Charlie Haden on double bass and either Billy Higgins or Ed Blackwell features on drums. These recordings are collected in a boxed set, Beauty Is a Rare Thing.
Part of the uniqueness of Coleman's early sound came from his use of a plastic saxophone. He had first bought a plastic horn in Los Angeles in 1954 because he was unable to afford a metal saxophone, though he didn't like the sound of the plastic instrument at first. Coleman later claimed that it sounded drier, without the pinging sound of metal.

In more recent years, he has played a metal saxophone.
In 1960, Coleman recorded Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation, which featured a double quartet, including Cherry and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, Haden and LaFaro on bass, and both Higgins and Blackwell on drums. The record was recorded in stereo, with a reed/brass/bass/Drums quartet isolated in each stereo channel. Free Jazz was, at nearly 40 minutes, the lengthiest recorded continuous jazz performance to date, and was instantly one of Coleman's most controversial albums. The music features a regular but complex pulse, one drummer playing "straight" while the other played double-time; the thematic material is a series of brief, dissonant fanfares; as is conventional in jazz, there are a series of solo features for each member of the band, but the other soloists are free to chime in as they wish, producing some extraordinary passages of collective improvisation by the full octet.
Coleman intended 'Free Jazz' simply to be the album title, but his growing reputation placed him at the forefront of jazz innovation, and free jazz was soon considered a new genre, though Coleman has expressed discomfort with the term.
Among the reasons Coleman may not have entirely approved of the term 'free jazz' is that his music contains a considerable amount of composition. His melodic material, although skeletal, strongly recalls the melodies that Charlie Parker wrote over standard harmonies, and in general the music is closer to the bebop that came before it than is sometimes popularly imagined. (Several early tunes of his, for instance, are clearly based on favorite bop chord changes like "Out of Nowhere" and "I Got Rhythm.") Coleman very rarely played standards, concentrating on his own compositions, of which there seems to be an endless flow. There are exceptions, though, including a classic reading (virtually a recomposition) of "Embraceable You" for Atlantic, and an improvisation on Thelonious Monk's "Criss-Cross" recorded with Gunther Schuller.
After the Atlantic period and into the early part of the 1970s, Coleman's music became more angular and engaged fully with the jazz avant-garde which had developed in part around Coleman's innovations.
His quartet dissolved, and Coleman formed a new trio with David Izenzon on bass, and Charles Moffett on drums. Coleman began to extend the sound-range of his music, introducing accompanying string players (though far from the territory of "Parker With Strings") and playing trumpet and violin himself; he initially had little conventional technique, and used the instruments to make large, unrestrained gestures; he plays the violin left-handed. His friendship with Albert Ayler influenced his development on trumpet and violin. (Haden would later sometimes join this trio to form a two-bass quartet.)

Between 1965 and 1967 Coleman signed with Blue Note Records and released a number of recordings starting with the influential recordings of the trio At the Golden Circle Stockholm.
In 1966, Coleman was criticized for recording The Empty Foxhole, a trio with Haden, and Coleman's son Denardo Coleman – who was ten years old. Some regarded this as perhaps an ill-advised piece of publicity on Coleman's part, and judged the move a mistake. Others, however, noted that despite his youth, Denardo had studied drumming for several years, his technique – which, though unrefined, was respectable and enthusiastic – owed more to pulse-oriented free jazz drummers like Sunny Murray than to bebop drumming. Denardo has matured into a respected musician, and has been his father's primary drummer since the late 1970s.
Coleman formed another quartet. A number of bassists and drummers (including Haden, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones) appeared, and Dewey Redman joined the group, usually on tenor saxophone.
He also continued to explore his interest in string textures – from the Town Hall concert in 1962, culminating in Skies of America in 1972. (Sometimes this had a practical value, as it facilitated his group's appearance in the UK in 1965, where jazz musicians were under a quota arrangement but classical performers were exempt.)
In 1969, Coleman was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
Coleman, like Miles Davis before him, took to playing with electrified instruments. Albums like Virgin Beauty and Of Human Feelings used rock and funk rhythms, sometimes called free funk. On the face of it, this could seem to be an adoption of the jazz fusion mode fashionable at the time, but Ornette's first record with the group, which later became known as Prime Time (the 1976 Dancing in Your Head), was sufficiently different to have considerable shock value. Electric guitars were prominent, but the music was, at heart, rather similar to his earlier work. These performances have the same angular melodies and simultaneous group improvisations – what Joe Zawinul referred to as "nobody solos, everybody solos" and what Coleman calls harmolodics—and although the nature of the pulse has altered, Coleman's own rhythmic approach has not.
Some critics have suggested Coleman's frequent use of the vaguely-defined term harmolodics is a musical MacGuffin: a red herring of sorts designed to occupy critics overly-focused on Coleman's sometimes unorthodox compositional style.

Jerry Garcia played guitar on three tracks from Coleman's Virgin Beauty (1988) - "Three Wishes," "Singing In The Shower," and "Desert Players." Coleman joined the Grateful Dead on stage twice in 1993 playing the band's "The Other One," "Wharf Rat," "Stella Blue," and covering Bobby Bland's "Turn On Your Lovelight," among others. Another unexpected association was with guitarist Pat Metheny, with whom Coleman recorded Song X (1985); though released under Metheny's name, Coleman was essentially co-leader (contributing all the compositions).
In 1990 the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy held a three-day "Portrait of the Artist" featuring a Coleman quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. The festival also presented performances of his chamber music and the symphonic Skies of America.
In 1991, Coleman played on the soundtrack for David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch; the orchestra was conducted by Howard Shore. It is notable among other things for including a rare sighting of Coleman playing a jazz standard: Thelonious Monk's blues line “Misterioso.” Two 1972 (pre-electric) Coleman recordings, "Happy House" and "Foreigner in a Free Land" were used in Gus Van Sant's 1995 Finding Forrester.
The mid-1990s saw a flurry of activity from Coleman: he released four records in 1995 and 1996, and for the first time in many years worked regularly with piano players (either Geri Allen or Joachim Kühn).
Coleman has rarely performed on other musicians' records. Exceptions include extensive performances on albums by Jackie McLean in 1967 (New and Old Gospel, on which he played trumpet), and James Blood Ulmer in 1978, and cameo appearances on Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band album (1970), Jamaaladeen Tacuma's Renaissance Man (1983), Joe Henry's Scar (2001) and Lou Reed's The Raven (2003).
In September 2006 he released a live album titled Sound Grammar with his newest quartet (Denardo drumming and two bassists, Gregory Cohen and Tony Falanga). This is his first album of new material in ten years, and was recorded in Germany in 2005. It won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music.
Jazz pianist Joanne Brackeen (who had only briefly studied music as a child) stated in an interview with Marian McPartland that Coleman has been mentoring her and giving her semi-formal music lessons in recent years.



Ornette Coleman (Fort Worth, 9 de marzo de 1930) es un saxofonista, trompetista, violinista y compositor estadounidense de jazz. Figura fundacional de la vanguardia jazzística con un cuarteto en el que estaba Don Cherry, sus innovaciones en el ámbito del free jazz han sido tan revolucionarias como fuertemente controvertidas.
Inspirado en sus orígenes por Charlie Parker, comenzó a tocar el saxofón alto a los 14 años y el tenor dos años después. Sus primeras experiencias musicales fueron en bandas texanas de R&B, entre las que estaban las de Red Connors y Pee Wee Crayton, pero su tendencia a ser original estilísticamente le granjeó hostilidades entre las audiencias y los músicos. Coleman se trasladó a Los Ángeles a comienzos de los cincuenta, donde trabajó como técnico de ascensores mientras estudiaba libros de música. Conoció a músicos con aspiraciones similares en cuanto a grala originalidad: Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell, Bobby Bradford, Charles Moffett y Billy Higgins, pero no fue hasta 1958 (tras numerosos intentos de tocar con los mejores músicos de Los Ángeles) en que Coleman consiguió un núcleo de artistas con los que poder tocar su música. Apareció durante un breve período como miembro del quinteto de Paul Bley en el Hillcrest Club y grabó dos discos para Contemporary. Con la ayuda de John Lewis, Coleman y Cherry entraron en la Lenox School of Jazz en 1959, y estuvieron durante un largo período en el Five Spot en Nueva York, etapa que alertó al mundo del jazz acerca de la llegada de una nueva y radical forma de hacer jazz. Desde ese mismo momento, Coleman fue calificado a partes iguales como genio y como fraude.

Entre 1959 y 1961, Coleman grabó una serie de discos para Atlantic que se han convertido en clásicos; formando un cuarteto con Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro o Jimmy Garrison en el bajo y Billy Higgins o Ed Blackwell en la batería, Coleman creó una música que influiría enormemente en muchos de los grandes improvisadores de los sesenta, incluyendo a grandes figuras como John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy y la mayor parte de los intérpretes de free jazz de mediados de los sesenta. Uno de esos discos, una jam session de casi cuarenta minutos llamada Free Jazz, fue realizado con un doble cuarteto con Coleman, Cherry, Haden, LaFaro, Higgins, Blackwell, Dolphy y Freddie Hubbard.
En 1962, Ornette Coleman, sintiéndose infravalorado por su compañía discográfica y por los clubes donde tocaba, sorprendió al mundo del jazz retirándose durante un periodo. Empezó a tocar la trompeta y el violín (tocando este último como si fuese una batería) y, en 1965, grabó con todos estos instrumentos con un trío formado por el bajo David Izenzon y el batería Charles Moffett. A finales de la década, Coleman formó un cuarteto con el saxo tenor Dewey Redman, Haden y Blackwell o su hijo Denardo Coleman en la batería. Además, Coleman escribió algunas obras atonales y clásicas para grupos de cámara y actuó en unas pocas ocasiones con Don Cherry.
A comienzos de los setenta, Coleman entró en la segunda mitad de su carrera. Formó un doble cuarteto compuesto por dos guitarras, dos bajos eléctricos, dos baterías y su propio saxo alto. El grupo, llamado "Prime Time", produjo una música densa, ruidosa y frecuentemente ingeniosa; todos sus miembros parecían tener un estatus similar, aunque Coleman tenía un papel más relevante. Coleman llamaba a su música harmolodics, simbolizando con ello la similar importancia que tenía en ella lo armónico, lo melódico y lo rítmico. Técnicamente, se la ha calificado de free funk. Entre sus acompañantes en el grupo estuvieron el batería Ronald Shannon Jackson y el bajo Jamaaladeen Tacuma, además de su hijo Denardo.
Prime Time fue una gran influencia para la música del grupo M-Base de Steve Coleman y Greg Osby. Pat Metheny (un constante admirador de Coleman) colaboró con él en Song X, Jerry García tocó como tercera guitarra en una grabación y Ornette se reunió ocasionalmente con los miembros de su cuarteto original durante los años ochenta.