‘I listened to him all kinds of ways. I listened to him high and I listened to him cold sober. I even played with him. I think he’s jiving, baby. He’s putting everybody on. They start with a nice lead-off figure, but then they go off into outer space. They disregard the chords and they play odd numbers of bars. I can’t follow them.’ Roy Eldridge
‘I think he has a gang of potential . . . but he’s not all they say he is right now.’ Thelonious Monk
‘Those musicians were standing at the bar scared to death Ornette was going to be the thing and that they couldn’t make it. . . This is just the beginning of something. Something wonderful is going to happen with that guy. He’s going to shake up jazz a lot more than he has.’
Buell Neidlinger (bassist with Cecil Taylor)
‘. . . . Anyway, the people seemed to like my music. We never did have a night at the Five Spot with a cold audience.’ Ornette Coleman
Coleman’s residence at the Five Spot Club in the latter part of 1959 and the first part of 1960 caused tremendous controversy among musicians. Their reactions varied according to age and stylistic commitment.
Those who had arrived and matured before bop and in its early years were often uncomprehending and sometimes downright rude. As Buell Neidlinger observes, their feelings were perhaps aggravated by an awareness of the fierce competition within the jazz world and the dangers attendant upon falling out of fashion. Others, including Monk, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus ánd Max Roach, who have developed their music since the forties and moulded the post-bop tradition, acknowledged Coleman’s potential while maintaining certain reservations. Younger musicians still without a firm stylistic allegiance responded with a more unqualified enthusiasm.