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Steve Coleman

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M-Base founder, composer, and alto saxophonist Steve Coleman hails from Chicago. His earliest years were spent playing in R&B and funk bands in emulation of his first hero, Maceo Parker. Coleman had heard all the greats in his hometown and changed his focus from R&B to jazz precipitating his move to New York. He gigged with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis big band, followed by Sam Rivers' All-Star Orchestra and, eventually, Cecil Taylor's big-band project. He began working with other leaders as well: David Murray, Abbey Lincoln, Michael Brecker. But Coleman was restless; he began listening to other music, particularly that of West Africa (he later traveled to Ghana to study). His music evolved and he continued to play side gigs, honing his sound and compositions -- he has a totally original alto tone -- by playing in the street. Coleman's first band, the Five Elements, would be formed of street cats, including Graham Haynes. The band came up with the M-Base concept in 1985 ("macro-basic array of spontaneous extemporization") and signed with the European JMT label. Others in the M-Base crew include Gary Thomas, Geri Allen, Greg Osby, Robin Eubanks, and Cassandra Wilson. Coleman developed complex musical theories about integrating the rhythms of funk, soul, world music, and jazz. He eventually signed with BMG and started three other bands, Mystic Rhythm Society, Metrics, and Council of Balance. He was also a member of Dave Holland's quartet for a time and has continued to play and record with his three groups as well as other artists, both M-Base and not. In addition to issuing over 20 records under his own name, he is a sought-after producer. Steve Coleman is a renaissance man for the left wing of jazz. ~ Thom Jurek

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