Artist David Hammons, a man of very few publicly uttered words, has a little something to share with the world on one of his favorite subjects: mind-bending free jazz and the out-there sound of the late, great Ornette Coleman.
“It took me almost 10 years to understand abstract music,” Hammons says in a video that he decided to let loose to help announce a new offering: a box set, described as a “special limited edition by artist David Hammons,” of Coleman-related music and ephemera published by Song X Records and released in conjunction with Hammons’s first Los Angeles exhibition in 45 years, currently on view at Hauser & Wirth through August 11.
The set includes four vinyl LPs as well as two DVDs, three CDs, a poster, and a 26-page booklet all devoted to two momentous events. The first, in the summer of 2014, was a tribute concert at the outdoor series “Celebrate Brooklyn” featuring a surprise appearance by Coleman that ended up being his final public performance. The second, from one year later, was a public memorial service for Coleman, who died at the age of 85, at Riverside Church in New York.
The set will be issued in a series of 1,600 copies, with the first 50 signed by Hammons. The price for the signed edition is steep: $5,000. (Unsigned copies go for $275.) But all of the proceeds go to Coleman’s family, so it’s for a good cause. Plus, it can count toward higher education—as Hammons says in the video of music so expansive and exploratory, “You can’t understand these things just because it’s hip.”
Sales of the signed limited-edition are being brokered by the Hauser & Wirth shop online.