Ornette: Made in America | Chicago Reader

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90 minutes · 2013

The last major work of the great American independent Shirley Clarke (The Connection, Portrait of Jason, The Cool World), this 1985 documentary about the innovative and singular jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman finds her straining at times to match his eclecticism. (Among the interview subjects are William S. Burroughs and Buckminster Fuller.) The film's biggest limitation may be its focus on a single piece, "Skies of America," through many performances and incarnations over a seven-year period, which stretch geographically from Fort Worth and Berkeley to Morocco and Italy—a good idea in theory, but the third-stream trappings of the piece make it less than ideal for this kind of workout. Still, this ambitious and affectionate effort to capture an elusive subject is undoubtedly worth a look.

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