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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Klaus Mauz

Steve Coleman likes to think of himself “like a [West African] griot”; he hopes to function “like a person that’s documenting something in music, telling a story and passing information down.” As we mentioned in our last post about Steve, there is little doubt that he has been one of the most influential musical figures of his generation, particularly in the area of helping talented young musicians find themselves.

We feel that Steve’s weekly workshops at The Gallery are an incredible resource, and we were thrilled when the folks at Symphony Space took an interest in presenting one in their space. If you find yourself uptown tomorrow evening, don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it. Here are testimonials from six artists in varying stages of their careers touching on the importance of Steve’s music, his wealth of knowledge, and his ability to change lives:

“…an exceptional personality of American music history.”

Don Byron

“To me, Steve’s as important as Coltrane. He has contributed an equal amount to the history of the music. He deserves to be placed in the pantheon of pioneering artists.”
“It’s hard to overstate Steve’s influence. He’s affected more than one generation, as much as anyone since John Coltrane. It’s not just that you can connect the dots by playing seven or 11 beats. What sits behind his influence is this global perspective on music and life. He has a point of view of what he does and why he does it.”

Vijay Iyer

“At this point Steve Coleman’s ideas about music, improvisation, and composition have entered the common vocabulary of four or five generations of musicians.   Some younger musicians probably don’t even know that he is the fountainhead of a huge range of current directions in creative music.   I think that playing with Steve permanently alters your musical DNA somehow — I’ve learned a great deal about my own musicianship in trying to navigate through his music, and trying to match the uncompromising spirit with which he approaches study and practice.   Musicians of all kinds should jump at the chance to see him in a workshop setting.   The fact that he is generous enough to spend his Monday nights sharing the results of years of research and practice is very rare.”

Miles Okazaki

“To say that Steve Coleman has had a huge impact on me as an artist and person is an understatement. He changed the direction of my artistic life and not only helped me clarify how I want to contribute to this universe, but also showed me processes and tools that empower me to create from the deepest place possible within my ancestry (the infinite past) as well as my future (the infinite unknown).  For anyone attending one of his workshops, be prepared to be changed by the experience.”

Jen Shyu

“The first song that we wrote together made me realize that I should be writing stuff that actually comes from who I am, and not worry about whether it fits inside a certain expected formula. There was a rhythmic science I didn’t know anything about, so that everybody is clued in to what’s happening with the drums more than the harmonic structure.”

Cassandra Wilson

“He’s a born teacher. He’ll expound on anything you can ask him about. And he’s absolutely full of information of all kinds.”
“Playing and studying with Steve, you learn what’s behind certain musical ideas,” says Mr. Finlayson, who first encountered Mr. Coleman while in high school. “There are the technical elements, and that’s one level to absorb. But then there are the things that are less apparent, things you have to be close to the music to grasp. This is priceless information to be privy to.”

Jonathan Finlayson