The Battle of the Five Spot
Ornette Coleman and the New York Jazz Field

David Lee
(The Mercury Press; Toronto)


1) Bernard Gendron, “‘Moldy Figs’ and Modernists,” in Krin Gabbard, ed., Jazz Among the Discourses, New York: Duke University Press, 1995, p. 32.

2) Ibid, p. 50.

3) Ibid, p. 50.

4) Ibid, p. 50.

5) John Szwed, So What: The Life of Miles Davis, New York: Simon & Shuster, 2002, p. 107.

6) Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986. “…an increasingly consuming and engulfing mass culture,” p. vii. Quoted in DeVeaux, p. 443.

7) Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Ed. Randal Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 40.

8) John S. Wilson, “Jazz at Town Hall,” The New York Times, November 21, 1959. p. 26.

9) John Litweiler, Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1992, p. 55. Coleman recalls Dolphy having been “cold” to him in his Los Angeles period, although in New York they became friends and recorded the album Free Jazz together. On p. 46, on the other hand, Litweiler quotes Dolphy recalling that he had heard Coleman in 1954 and praised his music.

10) Vladimir Simosko and Berry Tepperman, Eric Dolphy: A Musical Biography & Discography, New York: Da Capo Press, 1979, p. 36.

11) “In Review.” Down Beat, Dec. 24, 1959, pp. 39–40.

12) George Hoefer, “Caught in the Act,” Down Beat, Jan. 7, 1960, pp. 40–41.

13) Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 51. Quoted in Monson, p. 405.

14) Ingrid Monson, “The Problem with White Hipness: Race, Gender, and Cultural Conceptions in Jazz Historical Discourse.” Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. XLVIII, No. 3, Fall 1995, p. 412.

15) “A&R” stands for “artists and repertoire.” The era’s common term, “A&R man” has for many years now been supplanted by the term “record producer.”

16) Hoefer, p. 40.

17) Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, The Jazz Makers, New York: Rinehart & Co., 1957, p. xi. This collection of essays on jazz artists identifies contributor Hoefer as having “conducted the ‘Hot Box’ column in Down Beat for more than 20 years and has written for Esquire, Metronome, Tempo, and other jazz publications.”

18) Among his many crusading actions on behalf of the music, Hentoff published and co-edited his own jazz magazine, The Jazz Review, from 1958 to 1961 and in the same period started a record company, Candid.

19) Nat Hentoff, The Jazz Life, London: P. Davies, 1962, pp. 228–9. Reprinted by Da Capo Press, New York, 1975.

20) Quoted in Joe Goldberg, Jazz Masters of the Fifties, New York: Macmillan, 1965, p. 231.

21) Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, p. 53.

22) Jack Chambers, Milestones II: The Music and Times of Miles Davis Since 1960. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985, p. 20.

(23) Litweiler, p. 83.

(24) Brian Priestley, Brian. Mingus: A Critical Biography. London: Quartet Books, 1982. The photo signature between pp. 148 & 149 includes William Claxton’s photograph of “Newport ‘rebels’ Mingus and Roach with Kenny Dorham and Ornette Coleman; Cliff Walk Manor Hotel, 3 July 1960.”

25) Shelly Manne, 2-3-4, Impulse! Records Stereo A-20, 1962.

26) Szwed, pp. 148–9. In fact, Davis and Mailer knew each other well and even engaged in romantic rivalry over actress Beverly Bentley, who eventually married Mailer. It has been suggested that Mailer’s “hipster” was largely modeled on his concept of Davis.

27) A.B. Spellman, Black Music: Four Lives (originally Four Lives in the Bebop Business, 1966). New York: Schocken Books, 1970, p. 5.

28) Hentoff, The Jazz Life, p. 231.

29) Valerie Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life: The story of the New Jazz, Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill & Co., 1980, p. 69.

30) Ibid.

31) The innovations of John Lewis’ compositions and arrangements were always subtle and pleasing to the ear. This, combined with subdued timbre of the ensemble’s sound and the tuxedoed gentility of their stage image, made the MJQ a very un-threatening avant-garde--and at the same time, one whose professionalism was never questioned.

32) Musicians also softened their objections towards Coleman once they met him and realized his own stance on their music. Anecdotes reveal that at the end of his Five Spot sets opposite the Farmer/Golson group, Coleman always announced the upcoming “great music” of the Jazztet. Julian “Cannonball” Adderley wrote, “When introduced to Ornette, I received praise and admiration to the point of embarrassment.” Adderley also described trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer as hating Coleman & Cherry’s music when he heard it at Lenox, but coming to accept it during the Five Spot engagement. (“Cannonball Looks at Ornette Coleman,” Down Beat, vol. 27 no. 11, May 26, 1960, p. 21). Canadian jazz musician Dave McMurdo told the author the story, related to him by Brookmeyer, that the trombonist’s attitude towards Coleman broadened even more in the early 1960s, when he recognized Coleman as a loyal repeat customer at club engagements of the Brookmeyer/Clark Terry quartet.

33) Bill Smith, Coda Magazine, Toronto, No. 166, 1979, “The Paul Bley Interview,” p. 4.

34) John Mehegan, Down Beat, Dec. 10, 1959, p.6.

35) Leonard Feather, Down Beat, Jan. 7, 1960, pp. 39–40.

36) Leslie Gourse, Straight, No Chaser: The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997, p. 38. Feather’s comments in the Down Beat test cover an implicit disapproval of Coleman’s music that was characteristic of this critic’s reception of post-swing jazz styles. Fifteen years earlier, Feather had been literally strong-armed into writing more favourably about the emerging styles which came to be known under the name of “bebop,” including the music of the distinctive pianist/composer Thelonious Monk. As Monk’s son related the story: “Feather had previously written very critical articles about Thelonious. Monk was extremely upset. One day the big, intense pianist grabbed Feather, a slender, almost reedy-looking man, by the collar--or the ‘neck,’ as one person recalled it--and threatened to throw him over a guard wall at Rockefeller Center. There was a big drop to the ground below on a level that was a popular, sunken ice-skating rink. ‘You’re taking the bread out of my mouth!’ Monk said.” It is perhaps no coincidence that soon after this incident, Feather’s attitude softened toward the music of Monk and his contemporaries, culminating in his 1950 book, Inside Bebop. Although Feather never became a champion of Monk and his music, he at least withdrew his opposition to the field’s acceptance of Monk as an important innovator: a rare instance of a member of an artistic field physically coercing the consecration of an influential mediator.

37) Joe Goldberg, Jazz Masters of the Fifties. New York: Macmillan, 1965, p. 235.