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Branford Marsalis Remembers Ornette Coleman

3.9.30 – 6.11.15

Ornette Coleman in 1966 (Francis Wolff/Courtesy of Mosaic Images)

For each March issue, we ask prominent musicians to pay tribute to fellow artists who passed away in the previous year. This piece appeared in the March 2016 edition of JazzTimes.

I was 22 years old, maybe 23, when Stanley Crouch brought around a copy of Ornette’s record The Shape of Jazz to Come to Wynton’s house. He put it on, and I went, “Aw, man, turn that shit off. My ears are bleeding.” I hated it. He said, “You just can’t hear it yet. Just hold on to that record a while. I think there’s some shit in there that you could use.” I’m like, “Yeah, OK.” I listened every day, trying to figure out what was good about it. About four months in, I suddenly started hearing the music the way Ornette heard it-and then it was like my brain exploded.

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