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Tai Chi Grandmaster Ren Guangyi performed at Celebrate Ornette

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The pioneering saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman is considered to have “expanded the jazz idiom more than anyone except perhaps Louis Armstrong,” but his influence reaches far beyond jazz. The Celebrate Ornette concert held on June 12, 2014 was perfect proof how he influences musicians of all genres.

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At the invite of Denardo Coleman, an outstanding drummer who debuted on record with his father Ornette at the age of 10, a deep and surprising group of extremely talented musicians presented a long-overdue celebration of Ornette’s music and spirit at Prospect Park, Brooklyn New York. Denardo Coleman and his own band (Al Macdowell, bass; Tony Falanga, bass; Charles Ellerbe, guitar; Antoine Roney, sax) played as a house band during the concert. Special guests include Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka, Bill Laswell, Bruce Hornsby, Flea, David Murray, Geri Allen, Henry Threadgill, James Blood Ulmer, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Nels Cline, Patti Smith, Ravi Coltrane, Savion Glover, Thurston Moore and many other highly-acclaimed musicians. Late Punk Rock legend Lou Reed attended this event in spirit and played guitar virtually.

It was reported that the concert was perfect for several reasons: the concert was free, the weather was beautiful around 70 degrees, a wide range of music genres was performed by the most talented artists, and it was full of surprises. At age 84, Ornette Coleman was not expected to attend. But he not only attended the concert and sat on the stage for the most part of this long concert but also played his unforgettable alto saxophone, which sent the crowd wild. Another surprise was Tai Chi Grandmaster Ren Guangyi performing on stage a Tai Chi routine, which won a loud applause.

Grandmaster Ren is a 12th Generation Chen Style Tai Chi Inheritor. He was a Tai Chi champion both in the U.S. and China. He has taught Tai Chi for 20 years and trained Masters Jose Figueroa and Stephan Berwick. He also has taught Tai Chi to celebrities, including but not limited to Lou Reed, musician Laurie Anderson, movie star/singer Bette Midler, pain-management specialist Dr. DanRichman, and Internet Guru Jonathan Miller.

Ren has a very busy teaching schedule. But he wanted to pay tribute to Ornette Coleman. Additionally, it has always been Ren’s goal to promote Tai Chi to the general public who may not otherwise be exposed to the art.

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