Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ornette Coleman: Dickie Landry Remembers

Dickie Landry, saxophonist, composer, photographer, artist, long-time New Yorker and friend  since 1968, was not at the Ornette Coleman memorial at Riverside Church on June 27, but he sent me the following text from Lafayette, Louisiana where he now lives--to which he returned after several decades in New York.

From Dickie Landry:

"I first met Ornette in December 1968  at the Village Gate.  I had driven into the city that day.  I stopped at Smith's Diner on 2nd Ave and 13th St. to make a call and have a cup of coffee.  Walked out to the car and all my clothes and saxophone were gone, stolen.  I booked into the Broadway Central Hotel, roach-infested to the max. (The Kitchen was established in the hotel's kitchen).  Reading in the newspaper that Ornette was playing at the Village Gate,  I went and  introduced myself.  We talked for a while then he asked, "Your accent, where are you from?"  I said, "Lafayette, Louisiana." He replied, "I was beat up in that town once" (true story). I said, "I got beat up in NYC today".  He said "What happened?" I told him about my tenor saxophone being stolen. Without hesitation Ornette wrote down his phone number on a piece of paper and said, "if you need a saxophone while you are here, please call, I will lend you one."  We had been friends ever since.

Since Food (artist-run restaurant) was next door to his loft on 131 Prince, I would see and hear him practice every day. I had a solo concert at Leo Castelli Gallery one night  and I noticed he was sitting on the floor.  His comment when I finished, "I cannot believe that  you have been in my backyard for five years and I didn't pay attention. What are you doing tomorrow?" and asked me to start coming to rehearsals.

Several years ago Bob Wilson wanted Ornette and I to work together on a production in Taipei. Because I knew Ornette, I was asked to go ask him if he was interested.  I had four meetings with Ornette.  He agreed, but Bob's office waited too long to finalize the project with him and he moved on with his own concerts.  Bob asked if he could use pre-recorded music. Ornette agreed and said, "As long as Dickie Landry picks out the music."