He's pushing 80, but it's a youthful lilt that leaps from Ornette Coleman's saxophone. Forget the egghead innovations of his harmolodic theory for a sec, and concentrate instead on the unfettered emotion his alto consistently channels. From shrieks to sobs, the beloved iconoclast boasts a sound that sends shivers through an audience. Just as much as it conjures "old and wise" (his solos are marvelously refined these days), it resounds of "young and bright" (they still jitter, pop, and fizz). The interplay of his current two-bass 'n' traps team is a blast, of course—that merry-go-round of rhythm and melody is what jazz is all about. But those sitting in the Rose Theater for (finally!) his Jazz at Lincoln Center debut will likely be swooning to the hues of his horn—from "Sleep Talking" to "Song X," they give each piece a playful presence. No wonder those Bonnaroo and Meltdown kids have dug him lately. His tunes may boast drama galore, but he plays each one like a ditty.
Sat., Sept. 26, 8 p.m., 2009