On the morning of Saturday, June 27th, 2015, I attended jazz legend Ornette Coleman‘s funeral.
It somehow seems inappropriate to write a “play by play” about this event. Sure, I could list those who spoke, sharing beautiful and sometime hilarious anecdotes, or described his genius and influence. I could talk about the beautiful music offered by Pharaoh Saunders, Cecil Taylor, Henry Threadgil, Bachir Attar, Geri Allen, Ravi Coltrane, and others. Somehow, that doesn’t quite work in the context of Ornette.
Jayne Cortez was an African-American poet, spoken-word performance artist and activist of the Black Arts Movement. Yes, this great woman passed away in New York on December 28, 2012. I met her once at Ornette Coleman‘s birthday party last year. At that time I didn’t know much about her legacy. Yes, I knew she was my mentor’s ex wife. And I knew that Denardo Coleman was their son. And I knew he had been playing the drums in her band. Sorry that’s all what I knew about her.
But her death told me more about her…what she has been about for the last 78 years. Death has the power to bring people together. Death doesn’t mean that it kills a human life. No, on the contrary, death can give birth to life if the dead person got some s-o-u-l.
So I did some research of her and felt that some of you, my dear readers, would like to know about her. Continue reading →