Since then Coleman has remained a vital and unpredictable force in improvised music. He stopped performing for a while, and when he returned, we discovered that he had spent much of the time learning the trumpet and violin. Once again he was vilified by some as an amateur, but his utterly original notions of how to play these instruments proved to be as personal as his admittedly more fluent alto sax, and his expanded palette only made the music more thrilling. He formed an electric group that played with and broke up rock and pop rhythms; wrote symphonies, concertos, and chamber music pieces; and collaborated with musicians from Africa, painters, dancers, rappers, and poets like Allen Ginsberg. He's now touring with a new quartet, and we can only guess what music he will bring.
[Originally published in March, 2004.]