Ornette: Made in America
Cert: TBC Year: 1985 Length: 85 mins
Shirley Clark's film captures Ornate Coleman's evolution over three decades. Returning home to Fort Worth, Texas in 1983 as a famed performer and composer, documentary footage, dramatic scenes, and some of the first music video-style segments ever made, chronicle his boyhood in segregated Texas and his subsequent emergence as an American cultural pioneer and world-class icon.
Clarke was a dancer who studied with Martha Graham before she moved out of performing and into the movie world in the late '50s. She became well known in independent film circles in the early '60s for her films "The Connection" and "The Cool World" before directing a 1964 documentary on poet Robert Frost that won an Academy Award.
Clark original project for a movie about jazz explored Ornate Coleman's decision to use his 11-year-old son Denardo as the drummer for his group. The project foundered in 1969 and was resurrected in 1983 for Coleman's first hometown appearance in 25 years. The film captures much of the improvisational flavour and unorthodox structure of Coleman's singular musical style.
"I knew I was connecting to the way he sounded because the first thing I laid down was the sound," Clarke said, "Having laid the spine down, which was his music, I edited to the music. That's where the rhythms and energy came from. The film looks like how Ornette sounds and has the same basic thinking."
Clarke's use of rapid-fire editing, the juxtaposition of images and its non-linear story line gives the film a far more sweeping scope than a standard portrait of an artist.
For the sight and sound of the man in action it's essential viewing for any jazz aficionado
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