“In 1959, Coleman released his boldly titled magnum opus, The Shape of Jazz to Come, on Atlantic Records. Prioritizing mood over traditional orchestration, it was the highest-profile free jazz album, released before the terms ‘free jazz’ and ‘avant-garde jazz’ even existed.
Coleman’s bravery opened the door for others to experiment with the genre in ways they wouldn’t have before. Without The Shape of Jazz to Come, who knows if Coltrane would have had the heart to try spiritual jazz, or if an up-and-coming pianist named Herbie Hancock would’ve been bold enough to blend funk into his atmospheric hybrid. Coleman was the first major artist to leap into unforeseen territory, and he did it at a time when the courage wasn’t always rewarded. Despite the hardships, Coleman pressed on with his objective and did what the album declared he would. Jazz has never been the same, and we’re all better for it.”