Adegoke Steve Colson

ADEGOKE STEVE COLSON.... pianist and composer, has performed internationally as a leader of jazz ensembles ranging from trios to orchestras. Born in Newark and raised in East Orange, NJ, he received his degree from Northwestern University School of Music and lived in Chicago for a decade before returning to the East Coast where he now resides. November 13, 1989 was proclaimed Adegoke Steve Colson Day by the City of Newark in honor of the premiere of his multi-media work, Greens, Rice, and a Rope, at Newark Symphony Hall during the national celebration of New Music America. A critically acclaimed figure in modern jazz, Steve’s compositions are finding their way into the “jazz standard” repertoire and are being performed and recorded by some of today’s jazz greats as well as by his own group. He became a member of The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the early 70s, a musicians’ collective that has influenced music internationally in the 20th and 21st Century. By 1978 he was elected Chairman of The AACM. During his tenure as Chairman and then Business Manager, the 12th Anniversary and 13th Anniversary International Summerfests were produced in Chicago in 1978 and 1979 bringing the international press and fans of the music to Chicago from all over the globe.

Steve’s music has been compared to that of Monk, Mingus, and Ellington as well as Ives, Berio, and Stravinsky. He has written received several commissions and awards for composition from organizations with interests in the arts, and has traveled internationally, performing with many talented artists. Those with whom he has worked or featured in his presentations include Muhal Richard Abrams, Pheeroan AkLaff, Kelvyn Bell, Ed Blackwell, John Blake, Hamiet Bluiett, T.K. Blue, Andrew Cyrille, Baikida Carroll, Anthony Davis, Richard Davis, Kahil El’ Zabar, Douglas Ewart, Rachelle Farrell, Malachi Favors, Joe Ford, Chico Freeman, Rafael Donald Garrett, Benny Golson, Michael Gregory, Craig Harris, Billy Hart, Graham Haynes, Mark Helias, Fred Hopkins, Joseph Jarman, Leroy Jenkins, Oliver Lake, George Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Steve McCall, Andy McCloud, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Rene McLean, T.S. Monk, Butch Morris, Dushun Mosley, David Murray, Hannibal Peterson, Rufus Reid, Max Roach, Marlena Shaw, Tyshawn Sorey, Dakota Staton, Henry Threadgill, Steve Turre, James “Blood” Ulmer, Chris White, Ed Wilkerson, Reggie Workman, Rev. Frank Wright, and many others. He also regularly appeared with Spirit of Life Ensemble, and Amiri and Amina Baraka (Blue Ark).

Steve arranged, orchestrated and conducted the music of Willie “The Lion” Smith for the national Lost Jazz Shrines project, an outgrowth of a United States Congressional Resolution declaring Jazz a “national treasure.” Collaborating with artist Willie Cole and writer/activist Amiri Baraka, The Lion’s music and life were celebrated represented the City of Newark, N.J., (one of eleven cities). The concert was aired on PBS. This is one of several television presentations of Steve’s work in the U.S and abroad. Steve worked as Music Director for Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, by Canadian playwright Djanet Sears, with a cast that included the legendary Carmen de Lavallade, and he performed in Amiri Baraka and Max Roach’s bopera, The Life and Life of Bumpy Johnson. Steve was also commissioned to collaborate with Amiri Baraka and Richard Wesley by The New Jersey Chamber Music Society. The second book of their series, “...as in a Cultural Reminiscence...,” was the first jazz orchestra work premiered at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) during opening season, 1997-98..

Steve has been an educator throughout his career. When the Artists in Residence program was conceived by The National Endowment for the Arts (1981) he was one of 23 jazz artists selected nationwide to pilot the Jazz Artists in the Schools Program. He has given workshops in the U.S. and abroad, and teaches at Bloomfield College and The Cali School of Music at Montclair State University (NJ) where his courses include World Music, Music in U.S. The African American Influence, Intro to Jazz, and Piano. He serves as “listening and history” instructor for NJPAC Jazz for Teens Program.

Black Saint. On his latest CD as a leader, The Untarnished Dream, he leads a trio featuring jazz masters Andrew Cyrille and Reggie Workman, with wife Iqua on several vocal tracks. This CD, on the Colsons’ own Silver Sphinx label, ranked high in the Jazz Critics Poll. Their prior Silver Sphinx CD, Hope for Love, was Steve’s work is on American, European and Japanese record labels including Columbia/Sony, Evidence, and nominated for a Grammy. In November 2011 their label’s 1979 Colson Unity Troupe LP “Triumph!” was re-released out of London as a part of Soul Jazz Records Freedom Rhythm & Sound collection; book, compilation and re-issue series.

Adegoke Steve Colson’s Solo Piano recording “Tones For” will be released fall 2015. His work has been discussed in countless blogs, newspapers, periodicals, and in several books including:
* Black Women & Music, More than the Blues (with wife/musical partner Iqua Colson) - Anthology of Essays/Interviews - edit. Hayes, Unv. N. Texas, 2007
* A Power Stronger Than Itself – The AACM and American Experimental Music - George Lewis, U. Chicago, 2008 (*2009 American Book Award)
* Freedom, Rhythm and Sound Book / CD-LP compilation – Soul Jazz Records, London, U.K. – 2009
* Black Revolution on Campus – Martha Biondi, U. of California Press – 2012