Though the passing of free jazz titan Ornette Coleman has been covered far and wide, it took DFW.com’s Preston Jones to wonder why Coleman’s hometown of Fort Worth, TX has failed to properly recognize his vast contributions.
If you live in Fort Worth, the city of Coleman’s birth and where he first picked up a plastic saxophone, you can’t mourn Coleman in front of a statue or a mural or in a park or on a street or in a plaza.
The only place in Fort Worth — that I’m aware of — that mentions Coleman in any kind of laudatory fashion is the Fort Worth ISD Wall of Fame.
Not that the FWISD honor isn’t wonderful (Coleman was a proud graduate of I.M. Terrell High School), but we’re talking about someone who, in the span of his ferociously creative and critically acclaimed life and career, won some of the most prestigious honors that can be afforded a musician — or anyone, really: a Grammy; a MacArthur Genius grant; a Pulitzer Prize.
There are no highly visible memorials to any of the skilled, influential musicians who grew up here: Townes Van Zandt, Stephen Bruton; Ronald Shannon Jackson; Roger Miller, Dewey Redman; and Van Cliburn (though there is a street, Van Cliburn Way) — why can’t fans of these artists come to Fort Worth and find somewhere to pay proper respects?
The failure to appreciate Coleman’s legacy within Fort Worth is not altogether surprising given the way self-styled power brokers continue to diss innovators.