Steve Coleman Interview

Steve Coleman in Paris, July 2004

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

If Barack Obama spoke in paragraphs, as was often said, then Steve Coleman speaks in philosophical treatises—long ones. “My middle name is Tangent,” the alto-saxophonist and MacArthur fellow said at one point in our conversation (which, here, has been heavily edited from more than an hour of dialogue). But it’s only because Coleman is full of ideas. His body of music, which now spans over 30 years, is elaborate, layered, and draws on a deep reservoir of influences, from human biology to Asian mysticism.

Even by his own standards, Coleman’s new album, Morphogenesis, is incredibly dense. It combines jazz improvisation (including members of his primary improvising ensemble) with written arrangements for chamber musicians, including violin and clarinet. We spoke to Coleman about his creative processes, the tension between readers and improvisers, and the role of the audience in developing music.