Steve Coleman

Modern Jazz Saxophonist

Steve Coleman - teacher

In the late 80s or early 90s I went to a workshop that the great modern alto saxophonist Steve Coleman was holding at the Luggage Store in San Francisco. He had a great band there and was letting people sit in, so in that extraordinary moment I found myself trading 4's with Steve Coleman and the excellent tenor player Kenny Brooks. Later I asked Steve if I could take a lesson with him and he agreed, which happened a house not far from my place in Oakland.

I confess I have still not yet transcribed what he played at the lesson, but I do remember he got me think about polyrhythms by having me try to sing the Looney Tunes theme over a completely unrelated time signature, which was difficult. I played him some of Michael Brecker licks I was working on, and he played some very Bird-influenced stuff which I still have on cassette and will transcribe one of these days. Mainly what I remember is that he simply told me, "Work on rhythm. Work on melody."