Lauded by some, maligned by many, Ornette Coleman forged a breakaway musical art known as "free jazz." Featuring previously unpublished photographs of Coleman and his contemporaries, this book tells the story of one of America's most adventurous musicians from his upbringing in segregated Fort Worth, Texas, to his artist emergence in New York's 1960s counterculture.
Golia serves her subject fittingly by taking a nontraditional approach, applying the concept of territory to Coleman’s time on earth ... an atlas in prose, a guide to the territories of varied sorts—social, racial, aesthetic, economic and even geographic—that Coleman came out of, traveled through, lived near, occupied, left behind or transformed ... Golia, who once ran a performing arts center in Fort Worth, handles the area’s complex history deftly ... She covers the territory of the Texas blues with acuity ... Golia covers a lot of territory in tight, direct language that illuminates Ornette Coleman’s life and work without emulating its fire and originality. She’s strong on the impact of women in Coleman’s career ... Most impressively, perhaps, she devotes a sizable section to Coleman’s cryptic and elliptical philosophy of music, which he called Harmolodics, without straining to defend it with academic triple-talk or dismissing it. Obviously enamored with her subject, Golia avoids matters that might not reflect as well on him, such as his various fallow periods or the quality of his violin playing and his painting. But that comes with the territory.
Ms. Golia aptly outlines the aesthetic dilemma, when 'jazz had become aware of itself and its strengths' and Coleman 'found this self-consciousness restrictive and contrary to the purpose of deeper exploration.' She writes with demystifying clarity about the manifestations of compassion and rigor behind Coleman’s search for 'unison' and the musical system he called 'harmolodics' ... her book opens ears yet further to the transformative power of Coleman’s music.
Golia writes scenically about Coleman’s birthplace, Fort Worth, Texas ... With a pointillist’s talent for detail, Golia shows how Coleman’s origins in Texas blues gave way to abstraction on landmark records ... Describing the way Ornette Coleman’s music sounds is a challenge, and Golia rounds up some delightful attempts by music critics past.