(b Fort Worth, Texas, 1930).
Amer. jazz composer and saxophonist. Began to play alto sax. in 1944, tenor sax. in 1946. Influenced by Charlie Parker. Played in bebop, blues, and rhythm bands in Southern States before settling in New Orleans in 1948. In 1950 joined Pee Wee Crayton band in Fort Worth. In Los Angeles studied harmony and theory and by 1958 was regarded as one of jazz's major innovators. Attended Lenox Sch. of Jazz, Mass., 1959, and led quartet in NY 1958–62, then forming trio. Caused controversy 1960 with his recording Free Jazz (Coleman and 7 other musicians) in which improvisation was taken almost to anarchic limits. Semi‐retired 1963 to learn tpt. and vn. Reappeared in 1965 and then toured Europe. Style noted for free improvisation based on melodic shapes over a pedal‐point rather than on succession of chords. Relied greatly on intuition and at times approached atonality. Gunther Schuller wrote Abstraction, a serial comp., for Coleman and augmented str. qt. Coleman's own mus. includes Lonely Woman and Turnaround. His major piece of symphonic mus. is Skies of America (1972) for jazz qt. and orch. (recorded with LSO with solo alto sax. only). This was followed in 1977 by Dancing in Your Head and in 1979 by Of Human Feelings which explored ‘funk‐jazz’, a development dating from about 1970 features of which incl. a repetitive bass line, a hint of Latin rhythms, and complex rhythmic relationships.