What I find inspiring about Ornette is his genuine creative impulse. He arrived on the scene with a fully formed concept that was innovative and completely honest, playing the way he did because that was just how he heard music. The integrity of that approach, let alone the nature of the content of his art, is something I think all creative people aspire towards in some way. I'm influenced by Ornette as a saxophone player and an improviser coming from the jazz tradition, but I'm not really interested in sounding just like him or recreating what he's already done. The truth Ornette's sound and concept represents to me has helped me to identify what's true within myself. If my music bears some resemblance to Ornette's for some people, I think it can be attributed to my working through these external truths that have validated and unlocked some internal ones that are distinctly mine. As time goes on, I hear myself developing my own style, and the process of working on music like this is a lifelong pursuit.- Nick Mazzarella
Ornette Coleman turns 82 today. His music continues to shape the sound of jazz yet to come. A substantial creative and spiritual force that reverberates as strong now as when he burst onto the scene in 1959 with that amazing quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. I hear harmony different today because of Ornette Coleman. I hear rhythm different today because of Ornette Coleman. I understand improvisation different today because of Ornette Coleman. And beyond the sum of all of those parts one finds the incredible melodic sensibility of Ornette Coleman. Those melodies are striking. A near perfect balance of lyrical and emotive as notes bleed into cries of joy and anguish. The free jazz movement that ignited from his spark continues to burn today and is particularly strong in Chicago, where it was my privilege to hear the next generation of musicians inspired by his harmolodics this past year and a half.
A figure worthy of his own holiday. Happy International Ornette Coleman Day.