The Shape of Jazz Still Comes

In 1959, Ornette Coleman broke into the scene and set jazz free. His groundbreaking The Shape of Jazz to Come earned him the avant-garde stature and changed the rules of the game—less rules that is. Today, Coleman’s Sound Grammar is as fearless as it was five decades ago. At 76, his tone and virtuosity on the alto saxophone and trumpet had yet to suffer. Backed up by his son Denardo Coleman on the trap set, Greg Cohen on pizzicato bass, and Tony Falanga on bowing bass, Coleman wailed like a wild horse roaming free on “Jordan,” and stung like killer bees on “Song X.” Both tunes sounded chaotic on the surface, yet embedded inside them were deep, sensational melodic lines. On slow-tempo, sweet ballad, “Sleep Walking,” the interaction between Coleman’s sentimental alto and Falanga’s soul-sawing bass was breathtaking and captivating. Although he took one of my favorite instruments, the piano, out of the jazz band, I ain’t mad at him. With complete freedom from harmonic lines, Coleman’s unmistakable solos together with the hypnotic rhythm section created irresistible and unforgettable experiences.