Arts + Culture

Ornette Coleman, Winner of 2007 Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Opens UCLA Live Jazz Series Sept. 26


The Ornette Coleman Quintet kicks off UCLA Live's 2007–08 jazz series with the world premiere of new music and work from Coleman's latest Grammy-nominated album, "Sound Grammar" (2006), for which he was awarded 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Coleman's unique band includes his son Denardo on drums and the unusual combination of three bass players — two acoustic and one electric.

The quintet features Coleman on alto saxophone, trumpet and violin; Tony Falanga and Charnett Moffett on acoustic bass; Al MacDowell on electric bass; and Denardo Coleman on percussion. The concert begins at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus and runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets, visit, call (310) 825-2101 or contact Ticketmaster.

Since his prophetically titled 1959 album, "The Shape of Jazz to Come," alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman has influenced generations of jazz innovators with his cataclysmic and otherworldly forays into free jazz. The 77-year-old Coleman is still creating vigorous work and in 2007 received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

His first album in more than a decade and his first live recording in 20 years, "Sound Grammar" is the inaugural release on his new record label of the same name. As innovative and groundbreaking as anything Coleman has released in nearly five decades of recording, the album is also one of his most accessible and melodic works to date.

"'Sound Grammar' is to music what letters are to language," Coleman says. "Music is a language of sounds that transforms all human languages."

Hailed by The New York Times as "one of the last of the truly imposing figures from a generation of jazz players that was full of them," Coleman was born in 1930 and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He taught himself to play the saxophone and formed his own band at age 14, playing rhythm and blues and bebop.

Bursting onto the New York jazz scene in the late 1950s with his legendary engagement at the Five Spot club, Coleman ushered in a new era in jazz with the 1958 release of his debut album,"Something Else!!!" This music, freed from the prevailing conventions of harmony, rhythm and melody, transformed the art form. From 1959 through the '60s, Coleman released more than 20 critically acclaimed albums on the Atlantic and Blue Note labels, most of which are now recognized as jazz classics. He also began writing string quartets, woodwind quintets and symphonies based on his harmolodic theory.

During the 1980s, he released such seminal albums as "Song X," with guitarist

Pat Metheny, and "Virgin Beauty," featuring the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, as well as works on the soundtracks for the films "Naked Lunch" and "Philadelphia." In 1997, New York City's Lincoln Center Festival featured his music over four days, including Coleman's performances with the New York Philharmonic of his symphonic work "Skies of America."

Coleman has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, the California Institute of the Arts, the Boston Conservatory, the New School for Social Research, Berklee College of Music and Bard College. He was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship award in 1994 and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997. In 2001, he received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale arts award from the Japanese government.

It has been more than 30 years since a young Denardo Coleman began playing drums and recording with his father. Denardo has since gone on to record and produce many of his father's albums. In 1966, at the age of 10, Denardo, Ornette and bassist Charlie Haden recorded the award-winning album "The Empty Foxhole" for Blue Note. Denardo's many projects include a groundbreaking music and spoken-word collaboration with Jayne Cortez, one of America's preeminent contemporary poets, which has yielded five recordings for Bola Press since 1980. Denardo is the head of business management for his father and several of their music-related companies, including a newly built multitrack recording studio in the historic district of Harlem in New York.

Queens, N.Y.-born Al MacDowell began his musical studies at age 6. MacDowell was recommended to Coleman by the chairman of the music department at the New York City High School of Music and Art when he was searching for an electric bassist 30 years ago. A longtime student of Coleman's harmolodic theory, MacDowell has played with Coleman's electric band, Prime Time, since 1976. He has worked with many top artists, ranging from Billy Joel and Luther Vandross to Public Enemy, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Martha Reeves, and is presently writing and producing music for a number of labels, including his own, Rhyme-n-Rhythm Records. Over the last seven years, MacDowell has written and produced more than 400 songs and co-wrote one of the most requested dance songs of all time, "Believe" by Ministers de la Funk featuring Jocelyn Brown.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Tony Falanga is a celebrated solo, chamber and jazz bassist. He received his musical education at the Manhattan and Juilliard schools of music, where his principal mentor was the world-renowned bassist David Walter, and at Boston's Berklee College of Music, where he received a degree in jazz performance and was awarded the prestigious Lewine Foundation Scholarship. He has performed with leading jazz and classical artists, such as Wynton Marsalis, Andr Previn, Jim Hall, the New York Concertino and the Tchaikovsky Chamber Orchestra. He recently collaborated with Klezmer phenomenon Giora Feidman on a European tour and with virtuoso bassist John Feeney as half of the Feeney-Falanga Duo.

Charnett Moffett first appeared on record at age 7 in 1974 with the Moffett Family Band and joined Wynton Marsalis' quintet in 1983, at 16. He later appeared on Marsalis' influential, Grammy Award-winning 1985 recording "Black Codes (From the Underground)." In 2004, Moffett achieved another artistic triumph, as a leader, with "For the Love of Peace," a compelling statement that included 14 pieces of original music for the bass and exhibited the harmolodic principles he has practiced throughout his career. Moffett's ninth and most recent recording, "Internet" (2006), features 17 original compositions. He has performed and recorded with Art Blakey, David Benoit, Anita Baker, Harry Connick Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Arturo Sandoval and many others. In 1996, Moffett appeared on two simultaneous releases by Ornette Coleman's Sound Museum —"Hidden Man" and "Three Women."


Tickets for the Ornette Coleman Quintet are $60, $46 and $28 and may be purchased online at, by phone at (310) 825-2101, in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Series and choose-your-own subscription packages, which consist of multiple events sold at a discount, when applicable, are on sale now. UCLA students may purchase tickets in advance for $17. Student rush tickets, subject to availability, are offered at the same price to all students with a valid ID one hour prior to showtime.

UCLA Live is an internationally acclaimed producer and presenter of music, dance, theater and spoken word, bringing hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeles each year.


UCLA Live's 2007–08 Jazz Events

        Oct. 30: Max Raabe and Palast Orchester capture the essence of Berlin's cabaret culture of the 1920s and '30s in "Heute Nacht Oder Nie" (Tonight or Never), performing a whimsical mix of popular German chansons and original compositions alongside Cuban rumbas, cheery foxtrots, elegant tangos and covers of modern pop songs. (Royce Hall)

        Jan. 18, 2008: The Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary Tour features Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, six-time Grammy-nominated vocalist Nnenna Freelon and virtuoso pianist-musical director Benny Green, along with James Moody, Benny Green, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott. (Royce Hall)

        March 5, 2008: Regularly lauded as "the greatest piano trio in contemporary jazz," legendary pianist Keith Jarrett's outstanding trio, including bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, celebrate 25 years of transcendent music in their return to UCLA Live. (Royce Hall)

        March 21, 2008: Downbeat magazine's 2006 "Rising Star Jazz Group of the Year," SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star ensemble including Grammy-nominated trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophone giant Joe Lovano in a program featuring original compositions and works by saxophone legend Wayne Shorter. (Royce Hall)

        May 22, 2008: Dianne Reeves, awarded a Grammy for best jazz vocal performance for four of her last recordings, is joined by acclaimed guitarists Russell Malone and Romero Lubambo in a performance of music from her upcoming album. (Royce Hall)




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