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216 × 138 × 35 mm
368 pages
60 illustrations
16 Mar 2020

Ornette Coleman The Territory and the Adventure Maria Golia

Ornette Coleman’s career encompassed the glory years of jazz and the American avant-garde. Born in segregated Fort Worth, Texas, during the Great Depression, the African American composer and musician was zeitgeist incarnate. Steeped in the Texas blues tradition, Ornette and jazz grew up together, as the brassy blare of big band swing gave way to bebop, a faster music for a faster, post-war world. At the dawn of the Space Age and New York’s 1960s counterculture, his music gave voice to the moment. Lauded by some, maligned by many, he forged a breakaway art sometimes called ‘the new thing’ or ‘free jazz’.

Featuring previously unpublished photographs of Ornette and his contemporaries, this is the compelling story of one of America’s most adventurous musicians and the sound of a changing world.

‘Fittingly unconventional . . . Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure is an atlas in prose, a guide to the territories of varied sorts – social, racial, aesthetic, economic and even geographic – that Coleman came out of, traveled through, lived near, occupied, left behind or transformed . . . Golia covers a lot of territory in tight, direct language that illuminates Ornette Coleman’s life and work . . . Most impressively, perhaps, she devotes a sizable section to Coleman’s cryptic and elliptical philosophy of music, which he called Harmolodics, without straining to defend it with academic triple-talk or dismissing it.’ — David Hajdu, New York Times Book Review

‘One of the finest books on the power of place and influence in a musician's life.’ — Andrew Male, Mojo

‘A spectacular new biography . . . Golia has penned a labor of love and a thoroughly researched, righteous homage. Best of all, in my view, Golia gets Coleman’s ravenous intellectual curiosity. Her prose is sometimes dense with context, sometimes poetic and exalted, sometimes punchy ("Jim Crow could not dictate what kind of music a person listened to.") She gets that Ornette was never only a jazz musician. He was a thinker, a futurist, a cultural revolutionary . . . Refreshingly, Golia describes references that informed Ornette’s voracious curiosity, like Derrida, Buckminster Fuller, Maya Angelou, the later Krishnamurti, and Guy Debord.’ — Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Golia takes a broader approach, situating the great saxophonist and composer in his cultural, social and geographical contexts. Each of the four sections pivots on a particular time and place, establishing the territory then striking out on an adventure in a manner akin to a Coleman solo . . . By deftly tracing these connections and transformations, Golia has created a valuable and highly engaging survey of Coleman’s harmolodic life.’ — The Wire

‘Golia offers a wide-ranging biography of the great saxophonist, writing less about the man himself than about the people, places, and musical tendencies that converged to make him the "patron saint of all things dissonant and defiant." The approach suits Coleman, who was soft-spoken despite his stubborn nonconformity, and unaffected by the larger-than-life egotism of contemporaries such as Charles Mingus or Miles Davis.’ — Julian Lucas, Harper's Magazine

‘A professional account of a heady dude, without cosmic junk and jargon.’ — Colin Fleming, Jazz Times

‘Ms. Golia aptly outlines the aesthetic dilemma, when “jazz had become aware of itself and its strengths” . . . [and] writes with demystifying clarity about the manifestations of compassion and rigor behind Coleman’s search for “unison” and the musical system he called “harmolodics.” . . . She notably grounds Coleman’s identity in his hometown, reconstructing an“idiosyncratic collage of radio broadcasts from Harlem, Western Swing fiddlers, Tejano two-steps, high-school marching bands, and the rhythm and blues that issued from storefront churches” . . . [Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure] opens ears yet further to the transformative power of Coleman’s music.’ — Larry Blumenfeld, Wall Street Journal

‘Ornette Coleman] was the shock of the new . . . Golia writes scenically about Coleman’s birthplace, Fort Worth, Texas, where Jim Crow and music were everywhere . . . With a pointillist’s talent for detail, [she] shows how Coleman’s origins in Texas blues gave way to abstraction on landmark records . . . ultimately leading him to create the musical paradigm he called “harmolodics.” . . . The “free” in [Coleman’s] “free jazz” is an ambivalent word. It doesn’t refer to the absence of oppression or musical rules, but instead the struggle to imagine a place beyond them both. In that sense, Coleman’s definition of freedom was radically inclusive, both politically and musically.’ — Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

‘There are lots of fascinating anecdotes, stories and previously unpublished photographs in Golia’s book . . . She has compiled a detailed, interesting story of his career.’ — Martin Chilton, udiscovermusic.com

‘The book is much more than a conventional biography — you learn a lot about his childhood and artistic development, particularly the early years when he was wrestling with the blues and conventional R&B forms, and you learn about the whole Texas milieu he emerged from. But there’s also a great deal of discussion of his music and life philosophy, including extensive quotes from people in his bands, so if you’re at all a fan of his work and want to gain some real perspective on it, it’s pretty much a must-read. Highly recommended.’ — Stereogum.com

‘Maria Golia's well-researched volume paints a portrait of a man who looked different, ate differently (being a vegetarian in Texas was no joke), and, of course, played differently . . . we learn a great deal about Coleman's musical beginnings, his subsequent motivations, and the broader landscape of which he was a part.’ — Record Collector

‘Maria Golia eloquently describes the Ornette phenomenon in a book laden with musical and social insights.’ — Chris Searle, The Morning Star

‘Golia takes us on a guided tour, not just of Coleman’s mind and music but of the country and state that birthed him and made him into a permanent outlaw and outlier. She clearly designates the framework of the biography of this titanic figure, demonstrating that the individuals who may be said to define an era have generally distilled its characteristic forces and possibilities into a consistent body of work that has in turn transformed the times in which they lived and worked. In other words, Ornette is a mirror of the very America which often found it so hard to incorporate him into its artistic, musical and cultural fabric.’ — Donald Brackett, Critics at Large

‘[A] compelling and rewarding new book.’ — Jerry Jazz Musician

‘The freedom that Golia describes is the freedom and openness to form friendships with artists from other areas of the arts. It is the freedom of someone who would go off to Morocco to seek out the musicians of JouJouka. These musicians had a profound effect on the way that Coleman developed multiple unisons and the harmolodic melding of the blues to create the Prime Time band . . . The research that Golia has done is impressive and her book will be essential.’ — Jazz Views

‘Author Maria Golia’s depiction of the mise en scene of Ornette Coleman’s life, and her insights into his persona, provide ample material to understand the saxophonist’s initial disruption and his long-term influence.’ — The Arts Fuse

‘Lauded by some, maligned by many, Ornette Coleman forged a breakaway art sometimes called "the new thing" or "free jazz." At the dawn of the Space Age and New York's 1960s counterculture, his music gave voice to the moment. Featuring previously unpublished photographs of Ornette and his contemporaries, this is the compelling story of one of America's most adventurous musicians and the sound of a changing world.’ — Rough Trade, Books of the Year 2020

‘Maria Golia’s forensic, scholarly, original Ornette Coleman: The Territory And Adventure is a very welcome book . . . Golia – perfectly placed to write this book as one-time manager of the Caravan Of Dreams – expertly outlines Ornette’s place in a distinctly Texan musical heritage . . . a fascinating, formidable study of Ornette, with all the seriousness and rigour his life and music deserve.’ — Sounds of Surprise

‘A marvelous and unique biography of an equally unique artist. Maria covers his entire life in vivid detail with emphasis on the man, his associations and his artistic methods. It is the perfect companion to John Litweiler’s Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life written in 1994.’ — Mosaic Records’ Daily Jazz Gazette

‘Golia contends that Coleman's particular vision of music, what he called Harmolodics, affected not only the shape of jazz but also that of other musical genres as well as poetry, visual art, film-making, and even architecture. It's a compelling argument, and Golia's book offers much interesting information concerning Coleman's upbringing and early music apprenticeship in his hometown of Fort Worth, TX, not generally considered a jazz capital but in these pages comes across as much more than a backwater.’ — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

‘A giant step in the right direction and the first significant book on Ornette Coleman since John Litweiler's Ornette Coleman: The Harmolodic Life was published in 1992…. Golia is very good at contextualising and explaining… and succeeds in exploring in a non-systemically musicological way the mysteries of harmolodics by shedding light on the more arcane side of Ornette's vast artistic curiosity. Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure also is excellent in enhancing our biographical knowledge of Ornette's early life in a very considered way.’ — Stephen Graham, Marlbank.net

‘In this book Maria Golia has succeeded in celebrating Coleman’s life of musical ‘adventure’ and arguing his status as a modern master.’ — Centrepiece

‘The history of jazz is often told as a geographical adventure in which a great art enlightens and assimilates a chain of territories in the course of world conquest. Maria Golia revitalizes that narrative in exploring the life and genius of Ornette Coleman. This is the most incisive portrait we have of him – a joyous addition to the literature of music.’ — Gary Giddins, music critic, author and biographer

‘It’s always good to learn more about one of America’s greatest musicians, and Golia’s work has much that is new, especially (at last) a proper overview of Ornette’s experience in his hometown of Fort Worth, both in his youth and the 1980s. The Territory and the Adventure is the best book on Ornette Coleman yet.’ — Ethan Iverson, musician and music critic

‘Following Ornette's departure from the planet, his presence in the world only seems to increase and his music’s influence will no doubt continue far into the future. The poetic conception of music, sound, and life in the broadest sense that Ornette embodied is addressed here through the terrific writing of Ms. Golia. This volume is an excellent addition to the ongoing study of one of the greatest improvising musicians of all time.’ — Pat Metheny, musician, composer, educator

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Maria Golia managed one of America’s premier progressive music venues, the Caravan of Dreams Performing Arts Center, in Fort Worth, Ornette Coleman’s hometown. Her previous books include Cairo: City of Sand (2004), Photography and Egypt (2009) and Meteorite: Nature and Culture (2015), all published by Reaktion.


Part One: Coming Up
Part Two: Ignition
Part Three: Atmospherics
Part Four: Transmissions