Jazz legend Ornette Coleman, who died June 11 of a heart attack at age 85, performed at many Chicago venues over his storied career, including Orchestra Hall, where he appeared most recently in 2003. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association joins music lovers worldwide in mourning the death of the artist lauded as the founder of the free jazz movement.
For more than five decades, Coleman played a pivotal role in American music. “He belongs to that rare breed of artists-thinkers whose influence extends far beyond the realm of their chosen medium,” as a recent biographical statement noted. “Always putting his remarkable virtuosity at the service of melody and emotion, he has had a powerful impact on how musicians play, improvise and compose, on how music lovers listen, on the color and sound of music the world over.”
Though his last studio disc, “Sound Grammar,” was released in 2006, he continued to perform sporadically, with his final appearance coming in June 2014. In 2007, he received a Pulitzer Prize in music and also a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.
“There is a law in what I’m playing,” Coleman once famously observed, “but that law is a law that when you get tired of it, you can change it.”