Music Scores Big Hit with Hiring of Visionary Jazz Figure
Saxophonist and Musical Renaissance Man Steve Coleman Will Teach, Conduct Research
By Kathleen Maclay, Public Affairs
Music has transported saxophonist Steve Coleman from Chicago to Ghana, Paris to Havana, Senegal to Brazil, Oakland to India. His latest stop: Berkeley, where this month he began teaching and conducting research.
Although Coleman, 42, teaches music improvisation and often is described as a jazz musician, he said in an interview from his new Oakland home that such labels are too limiting. He has broad musical interests and talents, which shine in his work as a cutting-edge performer, band leader, record producer and ethnomusicologist.
Coleman has performed with music greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Holland, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Abbey Lincoln, Sam Rivers, Sarah Vaughn, Thad Jones, McCoy Tyner, Bobby McFerrin and Ray Brown. His reputation is especially strong in France and Germany.
And while he enjoys performing as a soloist, he also is a collaborator who thrives on working with people from many countries and cultures as he researches areas such as aboriginal music.
"Steve Coleman is an outstanding artist who is constantly expanding his aesthetic horizons," said Berkeley Music Professor Olly Wilson.
Wye Allanbrooke, chairman of the music department, praised Coleman when announcing his appointment to the tenure-track position after a lengthy, national search.
"Steve is just a thrilling teacher," she said. "He's also very much a visionary and a real believer in collaboration. He works with his group."
Coleman is dividing his time between the music department, where he does teaching and research, and his research at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology. The center is an interdisciplinary music department satellite program that explores links between music and technology.
Coleman said he repeatedly declined teaching offers at East Coast institutions, and that Berkeley's open approach to teaching and the opportunity to continue his research lured him West.
"I already have tons of writings on my computer," Coleman said. He said his research "involves a creative music from the perspective of my experiences. Ultimately, it involves mankind's relationship to the universe and who and what we are."
Coleman's rÈsumÈ reflects a wide and deep range of musical talents, interests and commitments: