website_header_art_march_2017.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Please support the music you love with your new or renewing membership donation today!

Ornette Coleman In 5 Songs

When Ornette Coleman won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, Stephen Colbert did a routine which summed up why you should like Ornette Coleman. Colbert cued up a particularly raucous clip from Sound Grammar, Coleman's latest album, and started dancing uncontrollably to it. When it finished, he went for his first punchline: "I am gonna have that tune in my head the rest of the night." It isn't the easiest music in the world to get into, but when Coleman's imprint of fire-brazed melodicism strikes you, you may very well have his tunes stuck in your head all night long.

But what if you're new to the pioneering alto saxophonist and composer (and occasional trumpeter, and violinist, and tenor saxophonist)? How can you come to possess the social cachet of referring to tunes on Change of the Century with offhand nonchalance? And, as Colbert demands, "How can they reward these apparently random sound waves?!"

Well, start with these five songs.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.