Ornette Coleman has died aged 85.

The experimental jazz legend - the first to win a Pulitzer Prize for a recording - passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest in New York City this morning (11.06.15), a family representative has confirmed.

Ornette - whose real name was Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman - had a career spanning six decades and continued performing right up until his death and was hailed as an icon of jazz.

The self-taught saxophonist pioneered the free jazz sound, and his 1959 album 'The Shape Of Jazz To Come' is regarded as one of the most important of the genre because of its lack of conventional harmony and the absence of any guitar or piano.

The musician's ''chaotic'' solos - because he shunned traditional notions of staying within chord progressions - had a huge influence on modern jazz and rock music, where they are now considered mainstream.

The 'Change of the Century' musician also experimented with rock and funk with the group Prime Time in the 1970s.

He picked up the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for his live improvised recording 'Sound Grammar', as well as a MacArthur Genius award.

Coleman was previously married to late poet Jayne Cortez, but they divorced in 1964, eight years after the birth of their son Denardo.