Steve Coleman

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015
Doris Duke Impact Award, 2014

Allentown, PA

Born in Chicago, Steve Coleman has produced music distinguished by its use of indefinite meter and overlapping cycles. In the 1980s, together with Greg Osby, Geri Allen, Cassandra Wilson, Graham Haynes, and others, he created the collective M-Base. A leader of several groups, his primary ensemble Steve Coleman and Five Elements was formed in 1981 and is still active today, heard most recently on Functional Arrhythmias (Pi, 2013). In 2014, he received a Doris Duke Impact Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Over the years, he has shared his discoveries in rhythm and tonality at public workshops. At present, he actively leads M-Base Ways, an online resource for improvising musicians; and M-Base Concepts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using music as a medium to expand consciousness. His next recording, Synovial Joints (Pi, 2015), by the large ensemble Steve Coleman and The Council of Balance, will be released in April 2015.

  • Steve Coleman
  • Steve Coleman- “Harmattan,” Synovial Joints (Pi, 2015) :
    “Harmattan,” Synovial Joints (Pi, 2015)
  • “Sinews,” Functional Arrythmias (Pi, 2013)
  • Photo Credit: Dimitri Louis
  • Steve Coleman- “Adrenal, Got Ghost,” Functional Arrythmias (Pi, 2013):
    “Adrenal, Got Ghost,” Functional Arrythmias (Pi, 2013)
  • Photo Credit: Tracy Collins

What are your key goals for the award period?

I’d like to communicate through music in a way that contributes to expanding human consciousness. During this award period, a key goal is to organize both periodic artistic retreats and recurring residencies in cities around the country. The artistic retreats involve groups of musicians dedicated to exploring ways to move this music forward. We’ve already completed one retreat in the late spring of 2014. The recurring residencies, lasting 3 weeks to 3 months, involve relocating to various locations with the goal of energizing and transforming that area, both through interacting with local musicians and the local audience. We have already set up a 3-week residency in Chicago for the summer of 2015, and I’m working on another such residency for the autumn of 2015. I will organize all of these activities through my nonprofit organization M-Base Concepts, Inc., which will also publicize and document these activities using various multimedia platforms.