Max Winter Recommends...

“That Ornette Coleman’s music is not for everyone is the whole point. Because sometimes the most liberating thing of all is remembering that you can’t please everyone. So whenever I’m feeling especially burdened by imagined responses to some of my less conventional on-the-page moves, I listen to the man who with every breath urged us, in his own words, to ‘break away from…convention and stagnation,’ to ‘escape!’ But sometimes it’s also a matter of figuring out who you absolutely shouldn’t try to please. Like my college suitemate, Christian, for instance. A self-described Jeffersonian Democrat, Christian also had a laissez-faire policy about what we played on our stereos and how loudly we played it, even though he himself played nothing at all, claiming as he did not to have the slightest interest in music of any kind. To his credit, Christian abided not only his roommate’s prog, but also my jazz and my roommate’s noise. Then I spun—at a decent hour and volume, mind you—my copy of Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz. Within two minutes there came a knock at my door:

‘Would you please turn that down?’

‘You said you’d never complain about anybody’s music.’

‘I did,’ he said, adjusting the belt of his robe. ‘That’s not music.’”

–Max Winter, author of Exes (Catapult, 2017)