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  • Ornette Coleman appears, surrounded by a neon, geometric-shaped sign.
  • Photograph of Ornette Coleman.
  • Ornette Coleman plays the saxophone.
  • Ornette Coleman sits with filmmaker Shirley Clarke.



Sunday, October 6

(1985, Shirley Clarke) A visit by Ornette Coleman to his native Fort Worth (for a performance of his “Skies of America” symphony) triggers a much wider-ranging picture of the musician, reaching back to the early 60s. DCP. Approx. 85 min.


Ornette… is full of tantalizing stuff: formal juxtapositions, half-sketched implications, parallel experiments of image and sound. By virtue of the footage alone, it’s a valuable time capsule for anyone drawn to Mr. Coleman’s work, particularly in the two decades following the cusp of the 1960s, when his dauntless, affirming vision of free improvisation famously created a crisis of faith in jazz.”
The New York Times

“Cause for celebration… One of the crucial revelations of Clarke’s film is the utopian aspect of Coleman’s music. The progression from a quartet to a string quartet to a symphony orchestra to a rock band is only a small part of his striving to take the music out of its original context in clubs and studios.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Ornette is an intricately knit series of riffs on free jazz giant Ornette Coleman, one of the greatest living artists twentieth-century modernism produced. What makes the movie thrilling beginning to end is the score that Coleman himself wrote for it, largely derived from one of his major works, Skies of America (1972), a composition for symphony orchestra and free-jazz combo.”
– Amy Taubin, Art Forum

“A really great and innovative film!”
– David Ehrenstein

“A cinematic spree that unfolds the saga of Coleman’s career while visually evoking the boundless ‘free jazz’ flights of his unpredictable music.”
– David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor

“How can I turn emotion into knowledge? That's what I try to do with my horn.”
– Ornette Coleman, 2009

Film Forum