My father was deep

by Denardo Coleman

Complete Liner Notes from Gatefold Booklet

My father was deep, meaning his way of thinking and intuition could not be tracked. But he always seemed to bring new insight, new logic to whatever he was contemplating. The sound of his horn reflected this depth, the depth of the emotion of the raw soul. His concepts so advanced, so intellectual, yet his expression so human, so direct. He created and spoke his own language. For some his music was too complicated, too abstract, nothing to grab on to, just too out there. For others it was utterly profound because it spoke directly to the brain and to the soul simultaneously. As he would say, “It’s about life. You can’t kill life.” He was obsessed with expressing life through sound. He went into its properties as scientists had explored genomes, discovering DNA. He called his science Harmolodic. Open thinking, equality, freedom, the pursuit of ideas, helping others all included. He would say, “It’s about being as human as possible.”

This project began on June 12, 2014 almost exactly a year before my father passed away. That day we had a big tribute concert celebrating him at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. For all who were there, both performing and attending, it was magical, a spiritual experience. A Who’s Who of artists across all genres were there paying homage, and just freely letting that Ornette energy flow through them.

I was preparing this project for release when my father started experiencing difficulty. His body finally gave way on June 11, 2015 after a brief stay in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, we held a memorial at The Riverside Church here in New York. I had never been to a service where people emerged utterly joyous and smiling. Again, that Ornette energy, so unique and profound, had lifted the room. Defying category, that energy, both down home and highly advanced, is an Ornette kind of authenticity. The service made people feel really good, this window into such a unique being. The words spoken and music played, all from the heart, completed what grew into a yearlong celebration of my father. That is why I decided to put it all together and present it all together here.

I came to New York with my mother in the fall of 1959, when I was three years old. We were coming in from Los Angeles. New York was freezing. We stayed at the Van Rensselaer Hotel on East 11th Street. (Some things you don’t forget.) We were here because my father was opening at The Five Spot. Of course, I had no idea of the controversy his music was generating. I was equally unaware of it when he and I started playing music together in the garage back in Los Angeles, a few years later. And I was still oblivious to it as a 10-year-old in 1966, when I went with him and Charlie Haden to Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey to make a trio record for Blue Note.