Ornette Coleman Has Passed Away

The famous jazz musician died of cardiac arrest.

June 11, 2015
Ornette Coleman Has Passed Away Matias Nieto / Getty Images

According to The New York Times, the famous jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman died this morning. He was 85; the cause of death was attributed to cardiac arrest. Coleman is best known for a string of albums and performances, starting in the late ‘50s with The Shape Of Jazz To Come and Change Of The Century. These helped establish him as, in the critic Ben Ratliff's words, "a native avant-gardist" who "symbolized the American independent will as effectively as any artist of the last century." Coleman recorded steadily throughout his life, and received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2007.


In Ratliff’s excellent 2008 book The Jazz Ear , the writer spoke with Coleman at length about several recordings that the jazz legend found compelling—a Charlie Parker song, a track from the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers, a few others. "For me it ain’t gonna get no better, and it ain’t gonna get no worse," Coleman said at the time. "I have to choose where I think I am in relation to what I believe. Basically, the only thing that I believe, truly, is that there’s only two destinations: one is life, and one is death."

Then he amended that thought—"when death dies, the world is going to be incredible."

Ornette Coleman Has Passed Away