Compositions, Uncategorized

“Ornette Haiku”

The music of Ornette Coleman has always been an inspiration to me. He was an amazing example of individuality and staying true to one’s artistic vision, and he has had a profound influence on both my alto saxophone playing and composing.  I wrote “Ornette Haiku,” the second track on Seas & Trees only a few days after his passing in June 2015 during a brief stay in Aptos, California. It’s a 10 measure melody in 4/4 time (with one measure in 3/4) evocative of Ornette’s music with his 1960’s quartet bands, with 4 brief melodic statements. Haiku’s are traditionally three line poems in Japanese, so with this piece I was thinking more the English haiku, which can be characterized as a brief, impressionistic poem, without the phrase structure restriction.


For the recording of this piece on Seas & Trees.  John, Dave and I tried out multiple approaches, in terms of improvising and tempo.  The take on the CD is medium up, in time, free harmony (with a general tonal center of Bb, the key of the melody), and form.  This tune can also be a springboard for total free improvisation or even be played completely straight ahead, with the form and changes.  Here’s an example of the former from a performance of “Ornette Haiku” this past May with pianist George Dulin and percussionist Nezih Antakli:

“Ornette Haiku” with the George Dulin Trio

This 2 minute excerpt was taken from the closing section of a 20 minute long performance, so it’s technically the “head out” but it keeps on going in many different directions…you’ll see!





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