Text Box: JAZZ autographs


Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247


Price: $800.00



Autographed folio two page manuscript (2 sides of one sheet) of a short transpositional sketch by the legendary jazz saxophonist and influential composer to a friend, 2013.  The sheet measures 11” x 14”.  He would call his work here “Unison”.  Signed with first name only and scarce!  Offered with an original vintage 6.5” x 8.5” glossy press photograph playing his saxophone.

We spoke with Composer and University of Michigan Professor Stephen Rush, the author of the definitive Free Jazz, Harmolodics and Ornette Coleman, Routledge, 2016. (available on Amazon)  With his kind permission, we quote the description of this sketch he penned to us:

Roughly speaking - an Eb on an alto is a C and a D on a Bb trumpet is a C and a C on a bass is a C - so are they all C’s?  Ornette says, “Yes, but they are all C for a different REASON.”…...the 1st line…diatonically E to C, then Diatonically C to A. 6 notes each time.  Ornette would then say something (wild) like …”So an E is an A.”  This is interesting…because he was often including to talk about the relationship between C and Eb (being an alto player, that was a big thing for him, and late in life he would sit at the piano and improvise IN E-FLAT for hours, on the piano).  The he would point out that the relationship between C and A (going down) is the same distance/or the same relationship to C (what others would call an inversion). Taken one step further the Eb then becomes the EQUIVALENT of the A. 

two explanations of that 

If your uncle has two kids (the uncle being ONE DEFINED RELATIONSHIP to you), then the offspring, in turn, are ALSO in relationship to you, just a bit different.  Either way, we call both of those offspring KIN or COUSIN.  (nice!). OR If God or something created you and me - and we both want to book a hotel, use a toilet or a water fountain, then we SHOULD because we both come from the same “cause and purpose” (yes, all of this stuff was a metaphor, for Ornette) for race and equality.  ....like a lot of Ornette’s theorizing, is a nice synopsis for the human race.…... 

The second line from the bottom is interesting…demonstrating on “white notes” E to E diatonically (if you are in Phrygian mode) the contents of an octave, e to e.  This is nice because it shows the “contents” of an octave, instead of just looking at an “E Octave”…  Sort of like the harmonic series or overtone series, but in a slightly different way.  Of course traditional Western Music Theory would imply that an E MAJOR scale would be hidden in an E octave.  Ornette shows something completely different - the Phrygian mode….

Coleman (1930-2015) spent the last few years of his life suffering from dementia.  This sketch was written for a friend “with love” who used to sit with Ornette and verbally engage him with him in his latter years.  He pulled one of his sketch books out one day and wrote this transposition for her, it is unique and his philosophy through music.

Coleman was from Fort Worth Texas, his Father died when he was quite young and his young mother struggled to keep the family fed.  His Mother purchased a tenor saxophone for him and he learned to play by ear.  He created a band in high school called the Jam Jivers.  He initially went to Louisiana in 1949 to perform with a vaudeville traveling show called Silas Green from New Orleans.  After an incident where his tenor sax was destroyed, he started to play alto sax which was to become his instrument.  He joined a band in New Orleans run by Pee Wee Crayton and they travelled to Los Angeles which became his artistic home during the 1950’s.  Jazz was evolving from bee-bop in the late 1950’s and Miles Davis came out with “The Birth of Cool”.  The following year Coleman came out with his first record with his new quintet called, “Something Else, The Music of Ornette Coleman”.  In 1959 he went a step further and introduced “The Shape of Jazz to Come”.  A record of the same name was released on Atlantic Records.  He was also engaged at the Five Spot Jazz Club.  The next year he brought out a record called “Free Jazz” which became his hallmark and a sub genre of jazz.  While some like Leonard Bernstein, Lionel Hampton and Virgil Thomson applauded his genius, others like Miles Davis was not sure what to make of his new forms of jazz.  Coleman during this period spent time once a week with composer Gunther Schuller learning music theory and working on his composition.  In 1961, Schuller arranged “A Collection of Compositions of Ornette Coleman”.  It was a compendium folio of 10 works for jazz quartet and the original manuscripts of both composers are today in the Gunther Schuller Archives at the Library of Congress.

Coleman’s long career included some 52 recordings of his works as leader, 2 compilations and numerous recordings as a side man.  He concertized all over the Country and the World.  In 2007 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his recording “Sound Grammar”.  His last full concert was in San Francisco in November 2012.  That said, he participated in one last concert in Brooklyn on June 12, 2014 at an event called “Celebrate Ornette”.

An opportunity to own a unique and very personal Ornette Coleman “manuscript”.

One light crease which does not detract.  Perfect for display with the vintage photograph!