Pin It
.
Favorites

Feature: George Coleman Quartet 

In the early 1960's, after saxophonist George Coleman had earned his way to the top of the jazz world playing with Booker Little, Max Roach and Slide Hampton, he was tapped by Miles Davis to play in one of the greatest quintets in the history of jazz.

Coleman recorded four seminal albums with Davis: "Seven Steps to Heaven," "My Funny Valentine, "Four," and "Miles Davis In Europe."

But, while Coleman was at the pinnacle of his career, jazz was at the crossroads between bebop and the avant-garde. That tension would prove to be a turning point for Coleman.

His career began in the early 1950's in Memphis when his brother bought a saxophone and they both started playing it. George progressed quickly, inspired by jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, but he started his career in rhythm & blues.

Enlisted by B.B. King while still a teenager, Coleman learned from older musicians. By 18, he was writing arrangements for Ray Charles.

One hallmark of Coleman's playing, especially his spectacular solos, is circular breathing, which allows him to play more notes than seem possible.

"It's simple but you have to learn how to execute it," Coleman says. "You store the air in your checks and it works like bellows, like a balloon. As you expel the air from your mouth, blowing into the horn, you simultaneously inhale through your nose."

Coleman is modest about the quintet he played in with Davis. He prefers an earlier incarnation of Miles's band --- with Coltrane on sax, drummer Philly Joe Jones, pianist Red Garland, and Paul Chambers on bass.

But many aficionados prefer the 1963-64 band with Coleman and a new generation of players. Behind the scenes, there was turmoil. "Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams didn't like my approach to music," Coleman says.

The legendary bassist, pianist and drummer thought Coleman was old-fashioned, playing bebop. "They would turn up their noses at me. They knew I could play, but these were the young lions. They wanted to play some avant-garde, so-called hip stuff at that time.

One night at The Jazz Workshop, a San Francisco club, Coleman had had enough.

"I said to myself, I'm tired of these guys turning their noses up and trying to be so hip," Coleman says. "I'll show these idiots that I can play this bullshit". Even Davis was surprised.

"I played around the harmony a little bit, some different stuff. Man, it shocked them. They turned around --- all three of them. Miles rushed up to the bandstand: 'What the f--- was that?' That night, I proved my point. Then I went right back to my stuff. I did it to get them off my back."

Another cause of tension was that some fans actually mistook him for Davis, even though they did not look alike.

"When we played the [Village] Vanguard, Miles would play one set and leave," Coleman says. "He'd put his trumpet on the piano and leave it there till the next night. So I was there with those guys. They resented me, and I was out front. I was forced to be the leader because there was nobody to kick off the tunes but me. People ask, 'Why'd you leave Miles?' That's why --- it was stressful."

In This Guide...

    Jazz Fest Guide: Three thoughts for the 2019 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival

    The 2019 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is here, and with it, a whirlwind of concerts by national, international, and local musicians. It can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned jazz fest fan.

    Festival Information

    Everything you need to know about tickets, venues, parking, and how to connect with us to make the most of your Jazz Festival experience.

    Feature: Sasha Berliner Quintet

    When 20-year-old vibraphonist Sasha Berliner received the call, letting her know that she'd won the 2019 LetterOne RISING STARS Jazz Award, she couldn't believe it. "It was a surreal moment," Berliner says.

    The Players: Friday, June 21

    Teagan and the Tweeds | teaganandthetweeds.com 4:30 p.m.: M&T Pavilion - Squeezers Stage (Bluesy rock 'n' roll)

    Profile: Dawn Thomson's Imagine That

    When digging on an artist of two or more disciplines, you have to wonder which one dominates in that artist's heart and head. Dawn Thomson plays it slick and sweet on the guitar.

    The Players: Saturday, June 22

    Ambassadors Jazztet | armyfieldband.com/about/ensembles/jazz-ambassadors 4:30 p.m.: M&T Pavilion – Squeezers Stage | (Straight-ahead jazz)

    Interview: The Honey Smugglers

    Blame it on love. Rochester's The Honey Smugglers is here because it's frontman, Brian MacDonald, fell in love.

    The Players: Sunday, June 23

    Zion Hill Mass Choir 4:30 p.m.: M&T Pavilion – Squeezers Stage | (Gospel)

    Interview: The Willows

    The voices of Krista Deady, Andrea Gregario and Lauren Pedersen are spun gold, blended so well that they come across as one three-tiered voice. The trio known as The Willows makes other vocalists sound like Edith Bunker.

    The Players: Tuesday, June 25

    Soul Passenger | soulpassenger.com 4:30 p.m.: M&T Pavilion – Squeezers Stage | (Rock)

    The Players: Monday, June 24

    Fred Costello | fredcostello.com 4:30 p.m.| M&T Pavilion – Squeezers Stage | (B-3 organ jazz)

    Profile: Harold Mabern

    When Harold Mabern was growing up in Memphis, he had no ambition to become a jazz pianist. "I didn't choose it; it chose me," says Mabern, a self-taught musician.

    Feature: Jeff Goldblum & the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra

    When you're known for being chased by dinosaurs and being turning into a giant fly, it's inevitable that you'll have to do the rounds: going on press junkets, shaking babies, kissing hands, and hocking your latest wares -- in this case, a jazz recording. Jeff Goldblum, the actor and Hollywood bon vivant found himself on the Graham Norton Show about a year ago, doing the standard media song-and-dance for the movie "Thor Ragnarok."

    The Players: Wednesday, June 26

    Herb Smith Freedom Trio | herbtrumpet.com 4:30 p.m.: M&T Pavilion – Squeezers Stage | (Straight-ahead jazz)

    The Players: Thursday, June 27

    The Buddhahood | thebuddhahood.com 4:30 p.m.: M&T Pavilion – Squeezers Stage | (Jam-band, world music)

    Profile: Bill Charlap

    You might say pianist Bill Charlap was born to play standards. His father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer best known for his iconic musical "Peter Pan."

    The Players: Friday, June 28

    Kansas Smitty's House Band | kansassmittys.com 5:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.: Geva Theatre Center – Wilson Stage | (Straight-ahead jazz)

    Interview: Cha Wa

    The music of New Orleans band Cha Wa is a party in itself, a joyful collision of brass band music, funk, soul, and Mardi Gras Indian music and culture. The group is led by singer J'Wan Boudreaux and drummer Joe Gelini, both of whom learned from the preeminent musician Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe Golden Eagles and J'Wan's grandfather.

    The Players: Saturday, June 29

    Acoustic Alchemy | acousticalchemy.co.uk 5:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.: Geva Theatre Center – Wilson Stage | (Smooth jazz)

    Jazz Fest 2019: CITY's Daily Jazz Blogs

    The 2019 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival runs from Friday, June 21, through Saturday, June 29, and CITY Newspaper will be out every night of the festival, covering multiple shows. Check back each day for reviews, photos and video of each nights festivities.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Readers also liked…

Browse Listings

Submit an event

This Week's Issue

Cover Story:
Kings of the mountain
Rochester rock trio King Buffalo plays the heavy and finds success abroad. read more ...

Tweets @RocCityNews

© 2019 City Newspaper.

Website powered by Foundation.