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Jazz saxophone player Ornette Coleman dies at 85

Ornette Coleman, a self-taught alto saxophone player who polarised the jazz world with his unconventional “free jazz” before coming to be regarded as an avant garde genius, died on Thursday morning in New York at the age of 85, according to the New York Times. A representative for the family said the cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Coleman’s 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come is considered one of the most groundbreaking in the genre’s history. His death was confirmed to AFP by his publicist, Ken Weinstein. Coleman was born and raised in Texas but died in New York, where he spent much of his career.

According to the Guardian on Thursday, Coleman brought a new vocabulary to jazz, in the widest terms: melody, instrumentation, technique were all taken in new directions in his music. He received the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2007 for his album Sound Grammar. – Reuters; AFP

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