i have decided to systematically vanish from the social media world. i have a difficult time managing myself and my thoughts while flashing through an assortment of posts and comments - staying positive, keeping perspective, living in the now. my wife assures me that there are plenty of good articles out there. i guess i'd rather have her be the mercenary who brings me that bounty.
but thank god for facebook. i was thumbing through it this morning and noted two things: a fellow class of '91 survivor has taken up a blog, and another good friend posted an nytimes obit. i'm glad to know that tina is writing, as she has always been a multi-talented and intriguing young woman. and i usually check out what james is up to, a fantastic guitarist and one of the most down-to-earth guys i know. sadly, he reported the news that my one of my heroes has passed.
i experienced ornette coleman in giant steps. an early college pal geoff, possessing a myriad of musical influences ranging from neneh cherry to primus, first hipped me to change of the century. the music deconstructed my ears, which were replete with syrupy vocal jazz harmonies. i loved the new direction of this sound took a copy of that album back to my apartment, which roosted in the top of an abandoned funeral home, and popped it in the cassette deck. ramblin' changed my life.
as an undergrad, i walked into the old real records in iowa city, at it's original location on washington. i had no real idea of what i was looking for, and was dressed with the house music - ornette playing with prime time on the album tone dialing. the sound, that of the saxophone and of the ensemble, was what i had been searching for through most of my life. a yearning, urban, poignant, feel-good vibe. street blues changed my life.
i went to a festival of new music and film at the walker art center in minneapolis. i sat in the same seat for 9 hours, consumed with the aural and visual stimuli, which were no doubt fueled by an urge to go pee but doused by my fear of losing this choice location. i watched the bang on a can all-stars play a set of chamber music written by ornette, only to have him join them on stage for a handful of charts. i was punch drunk on creativity, exhausted from the core exercises i was doing to keep my bathroom needs at bay, and smitten with ornette's sound. he was dressed in all white, wore a snappy fedora, played a white saxophone, and spun harmolodic lines that soothed my soul. i literally felt like i was in heaven. this performance changed my life. at that very moment, i committed myself to chasing an artistry that is built upon my personalized belief system - not created by institutionalized jazz education or documentaries (i'm looking at you, ken burns).
my therapist says i need to spend more time thinking about, experimenting with, listening to, and creating alongside ideas that are nurtured by those who are most important to me and this pursuit. he calls them 'the authorities'. ornette coleman wore the shiniest badge in my town. rest in peace, ornette. and thanks...