|For more than five decades, saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman has played a pivotally seminal role in American music. The inventor of what has been called "free jazz," Coleman belongs to that rare breed of artists/thinkers whose influence extends far beyond the realm of their chosen medium. Always putting his remarkable virtuosity at the service of melody and emotion, he has had and continues to have a powerful impact on how musicians play, improvise, and compose, on how music lovers listen, on the color and sound of music the world over.
While Coleman has led a wide variety of formations, from duos to symphony orchestras, electric and acoustic, his basic musical concept has been remarkably consistent. He is interested in writing and performing music that allows all players to give free reign to their imagination and ideas. His musical system, which he named “harmolodics” and now prefers to call “sound grammar,” is a remarkable exercise in applied democracy. All voices are given equal weight; all musicians are free to make deeply individual contributions while listening closely to one another, at once giving & taking space for their respective creativity.
The release of Sound Grammar marks several firsts: the first release on Coleman's own, new label, also called Sound Grammar, the album is his first in more than a decade; his first live album in 20 years; and the first recording featuring his latest, now three-year-old, band. Composed of Ornette Coleman on saxophone, trumpet & violin, his son Denardo Coleman on drums, and acoustic bassists Tony Falanga (Orchestra of St. Luke's) & Greg Cohen (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, John Zorn's Masada), this group sounds like no other on the music scene or in Ornette's career.
Beautifully recorded live in concert in Germany in late 2005, Sound Grammar showcases six brand new Coleman compositions and two remakes: "Song X,” originally featured on the 1985 album of the same name, and "Turnaround," from the classic 1959 LP Tomorrow is The Question . He explains: “When I get a job to perform I write a whole new program of music so that we don't perform something I have played before and that my musicians have not. I want them to be affected the same way I'm being affected. I only do that for the sake of equality, not because I want to be a great composer.”
Ornette explains further: "Sound grammar is to music what letters are to language. Music is a language of sounds that transforms all human languages." As original, innovative, and groundbreaking as anything Coleman has released in nearly five decades of record making, Sound Grammar is also one of his most accessible and melodic works to date. It is poised to rank among the key musical events of 2006.