*1930-03-09, † 2015-06-11
Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015) was an American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer known as a principal founder of the free jazz genre, a term derived from his 1960 album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. His pioneering performances often abandoned the chordal and harmony-based structure found in bebop, instead emphasizing a jarring and avant-garde approach to improvisation. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Coleman began his musical career playing in local R&B and bebop groups, and eventually formed his own group in Los Angeles featuring members such as Ed Blackwell, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins. In 1959, he released the controversial album The Shape of Jazz to Come and began a long residency at the Five Spot jazz club in New York City. His 1960 album Free Jazz would profoundly influence the direction of jazz in that decade. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Coleman formed the group Prime Time and explored funk and his concept of Harmolodic music. Coleman's "Broadway Blues" and "Lonely Woman" became genre standards and are cited as important early works in free jazz. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music. AllMusic called him "one of the most important (and controversial) innovators of the jazz avant-garde".