Saxophonist Steve Coleman awarded MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship

Steve Coleman

Steve Coleman, alto saxophonist and pioneer of the M-base jazz sound, has been named as recipient of the annual MacArthur Fellowship.

Steve Coleman, alto saxophonist and pioneer of the M-base jazz sound, has been named as recipient of the annual MacArthur Fellowship. Coleman’s is the latest added to a list of twenty others names of achievers in fields ranging from mathematics to cartoon creators. Previous jazz names include Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Regina Carter, Jason Moran, and Vijay Iyer.

The MacArthur Foundation said they made the award because “technical virtuosity and engagement with musical traditions and styles from around the world are expanding the expressive and formal possibilities of spontaneous composition.”

Steve Coleman grew up in a tough part of Chicago’s south side and is greatly influenced by alto sax legend Charlie Parker. His M-base sound (Macro - Basic Array of Structured Extemporizations) is described as “circular and highly complex polymetric patterns which preserve their danceable character of popular funk rhythms despite their internal complexity.” The M-base sound has also given rise to key early recordings from artists like pianist Geri Allen, saxophonist Greg Osby and singer Cassandra Wilson. Coleman has made nearly 30 albums with his band The Five Elements.

Read the MacArthur Foundation’s full statement here.

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