Geoff Dyer’s many books include But Beautiful (about jazz) and The Ongoing Moment (about photography).


Torrential, Gut-Bucket Jazz

Ornette Coleman with Don Cherry at the 5 Spot Cafe, New York City, November 17, 1959

It hardly needs emphasizing that the desire for freedom in jazz is bound up with the larger dreams of freedom itself. Ornette Coleman tended to play down the connection between his musical project and the larger social turbulence of which it might have seemed a product and expression. When did it begin, this longing for freedom of which Ornette’s music is the undying expression?

Catastrophic Coltrane

A television showing John Coltrane, Equatorial Guinea, 1990

The interest of recordings from John Coltrane’s final phase—in which his playing became increasingly frenzied and the accompaniment more abstracted—lies partly in what they preserve and partly in any hints they contain as to where Trane might have headed next.