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Press release for immediate distribution

Ornette Coleman

Winner of the Miles Davis Award

Montreal, Thursday, July 9, 2009 - The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal this year offers the prestigious Miles Davis Award to the peerless free jazz titan Ornette Coleman. He will be given the prize by Alain Simard, founder and president of the Festival, at a press briefing that will be held this afternoon, July 9 at 1 p.m. in the Press Room (Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, 305 Ste. Catherine Street West). He will also be presented with his trophy on stage at his concert tonight, at 9:30 p.m. in the Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts as part of the Grands concerts TD Canada Trust series.

For over five decades, saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, 79, has played a major role in the evolution of American music; he belongs to that rare species of artists and thinkers whose influence extends far beyond the range of his instrument. Very early on, he concluded that modern jazz, once so daring and revolutionary, had in many respects become something established and conventional. An artist with the courage to be truly free, Coleman decided to break with tradition and develop a new conception of jazz, one that eschews everything moribund about modern jazz. Coleman would heed neither chords nor measures, rejecting all convention to create a completely new system of writing that prized complete melodic freedom above all. He would name it harmolodics, a musical concept with a richness derived from the originality of the musicians’ interaction, and the importance of the improvisational freedom they revel in. Having always placed his remarkable virtuosity at the service of melody and emotion, Ornette Coleman, who practically invented free jazz, has had-and continues to have-a profound impact, both on the way musicians play, improvise and compose, and on the way music fans listen to them. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his revolutionary album, The Shape of Jazz To Come. Don’t miss the return of a living legend (who hasn’t played the Festival since 1988!), tonight at 9:30 p.m., in Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA, as part of the Grands concerts TD Canada Trust series.

Ornette Coleman will be the 16th recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created for our 15th anniversary in 1994 to honour a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom.

Ornette Coleman is the latest in a series of Miles Davis prizewinners. He follows McCoy Tyner (2008), Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994).

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