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JazzTimes December 2018 Issue Features Tales of the Unexpected

Ornette Coleman agreeing to take a photo on a Harley-Davidson is symbolic of the stories featured in the latest issue of JazzTimes

Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman in 1988 (photo: Arthur Elgort)

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. The picture on this page is indeed of Ornette Coleman playing alto saxophone while sitting on a red Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Arthur Elgort took that photograph 30 years ago. (You can see more of his images of jazz musicians in the feature on pg. 42 of our December issue.) When I asked him about it recently, this is what he had to say:

“I got along with Ornette, and people say, ‘That’s a miracle,’ because he could be difficult. He came to my studio [on Crosby Street in Manhattan] for a Rolling Stone shoot, I think. He had his son”—Denardo, also his drummer and manager—“with him the whole time and he’d ask his son, ‘Can I do this?’ and he’d say, ‘Yes, you can, it’s okay.’ So I had him sit on my Harley, which he liked. We didn’t run it, it was just a prop. First I shot it with no hat, but I had a hat there and I said, ‘Try this hat on, I want to see how you look,’ and he looked more like a jazz musician. He loved it. At least his son did.”

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Originally Published
Mac Randall

Mac Randall

Mac Randall has been the editor of JazzTimes since May 2018. Prior to that, he wrote regularly for the magazine. He has written about numerous genres of music for a wide variety of publications over the past 30 years, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, Mojo, and Guitar Aficionado, and he has worked on the editorial staffs of Musician, LAUNCH (now Yahoo! Music), Guitar One, Teaching Music, Music Alive!, and In Tune Monthly. He is the author of two books, Exit Music: The Radiohead Story and 101 Great Playlists. He lives in New York City.