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Ahmad Jamal

Ornette Coleman liberated jazz

Few jazz musicians have been honored and reviled, celebrated and cursed more widely or more vigorously than Ornette Coleman, who died at 1 a.m. Thursday in Manhattan at age 85. An innovator to the core, the composer and multi-instrumentalist redefined the meaning and possibilities of jazz starting in the mid-1950s and continuing through the rest of his career. Though some jazz giants, many critics and large swaths of the listening public attacked Coleman’s work and character, none could deny that he not only changed the course of the music but opened it up to possibilities previously unimagined. “It’s a great loss,” said pianist Ahmad Jamal, who once similarly...

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