Just over two years since the groundbreaking saxophonist’s passing, Ornette Coleman was the subject of a series of tribute concerts in July as part of the annual Lincoln Center Festival in New York. The four-part event, subtitled “Tomorrow Is the Question,” fell almost exactly 20 years after the career-spanning “? Civilization: A Harmolodic Celebration,” a pace that Denardo Coleman, the late saxophonist’s son and longtime drummer, promised to keep up. “We’ll be back in 2037,” he quipped. “This music isn’t going anywhere.”
This summer’s tribute wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as its predecessor, focusing instead on some of the more arcane or less-celebrated aspects of Coleman’s diverse career. The week included a Sunday matinee performance of the composer’s chamber music by Ensemble Signal, as well as a screening of Shirley Clarke’s documentary Ornette: Made in America. But it was the week’s two stellar evening concerts that were the obvious highlights.