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date: 29 January 2020

Coleman, Stevelocked

  • Matthew D. Clayton II


(b Chicago, IL, Sept 20, 1956). American alto saxophonist and bandleader. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, he started playing saxophone at the age of 14. He was initially attracted to the funk and soul music of his youth, especially the alto saxophone of Maceo Parker playing with James Brown. Through his father’s jazz record collection and the sound of Charlie Parker, Coleman had developed an ear for jazz by his late teens. As he became proficient as a saxophonist, he gravitated towards the Chicago saxophonists Bunky Green and Von Freeman for first-hand guidance and inspiration.

In 1978, while practicing his saxophone in the park, Coleman had an epiphany. He was interrupted by buzzing bees, noticed their hovering and jerky motion, and tried to mimic their motion in music. This approach has dictated the shape of his music ever since. Rather than playing in sweeping linear motions, he instead developed a theory that he called Symmetry, which involves producing symmetrical motions around tones based on the 12 intervals of the chromatic scale. Symmetry is a fundamental concept in his music, and he combines it with more traditional means of composing and improvising in the jazz idiom....

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Jazz Times (Washington, 1980-)