The jazz pioneer claims his music was released without his permission or knowledge.

Last year, an album titled New Vocabulary was released credited to a quartet including Jordan Maclean, Amir Ziv, Adam Holzman, and free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman. Now Rolling Stone reports that Coleman has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that he was given no knowledge of this recording being released and had previously denied requests to release them.

According to the lawsuit, Coleman met Maclean in 2009 while the latter was working on the Broadway music Fela! (Maclean’s band, Antibalas, is modeled after Fela Kuti‘s Africa 70 band). Coleman invited Maclean and Ziv back to his home to play together in some “teaching sessions”. Now those sessions have been released with additional instrumentation added as New Vocabulary.

Coleman says he was approached in the past by Maclean and denied his request to release them. Coleman’s lawyers claim the recordings were made without his consent or knowledge and have been “reproduced, communicated to the public, publicly distributed, sold, transmitted, and trafficked.” They’ve also been manipulated as the piano sections from Holzman, who is not included in the lawsuit, were recorded over the original Coleman tapes.

“The public is likely to be misled into believing that Coleman approves of, or is affiliated with, the public release of these recordings,” said Coleman’s lawyers in the lawsuit. Maclean and Ziv have yet to respond.

Ornette Coleman’s last official album, the 2006 live album Sound Grammar, won the Pulitzer Prize. His 1971 album Science Fiction was also featured in our list of the 100 best albums of the 1970s.



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