Ornette: Made in America | Chicago Reader

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Shirley Clarke's first feature after her 1967 underground classic A Portrait of Jason was this disappointing muddle of concert footage, unfocused interviews, dated psychedelia, and indifferently staged dramatic scenes centered on jazz great Ornette Coleman. Clarke happily avoids the PBS trap of trying to explicate Coleman's notoriously difficult music, but neither does she give the music the time and space it needs to explain itself. Her rush to enshrine Coleman as a member of a nebulous, spacey avant-garde tradition (among the interviewees are Buckminster Fuller and William S. Burroughs) leaves the work itself off to one side, where it's still going to sound like noise to most people.

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