Sharing almost three hours of music and conversation with alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman, 56, it becomes strikingly clear that he finds something of value in any style or sound he hears. Not that he doesn’t have his opinions; he does. But he listens long, often to an entire track, before commenting, and is less concerned with identifying players and tunes than with considering recordings as both individual statements and part of shared traditions. A seasoned producer with more than 20 recordings as a leader-his latest, Functional Arrhythmias (Pi), a studio album featuring the newest edition of his longrunning quintet, Five Elements, was released in March-he can be particular about production values. Coleman’s reputation as a teacher, a role he’s served in official and informal bases, is well earned. To him, every performance carries a lesson or story.
Appropriately, this Before & After was conducted at New York University, in a space and with technical support provided by the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.