Anthony Coleman (born August 30, 1955) is a Jewish American musician. Coleman is a piano and keys player, trombonist and vocalist mainly working within the free improvised and avant-garde jazz scenes in downtown New York during the late 1970s through to the present day[1]. His greatest impact was during the 80s and 90s when he worked with rising avant-garde star John Zorn on such seminal works as Cobra, Kristallnacht, The Big Gundown, Archery and Spillane and helped push forward modern Jewish music into the 21st century.


Coleman's collaborators over the years have included guitarist Elliott Sharp, trumpeter Dave Douglas, accordion player Guy Klucevsek, composer David Shea, former Captain Beefheart bandmember Gary Lucas, classical and Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Greg Cohen, drummer Joey Baron and saxophonist Roy Nathanson.

Coleman's own compositions and solo work reflect his interest and exploration of his Jewish background and Jewish music. His groups Sephardic Tinge and Selfhaters in the 1990s explored both the lively, rich and exuberant musical legacy as well as darkly described the lamentation of a minority culture in Diaspora[2].

Sephardic Tinge have toured extensively all over the world and Europe three times[1].

Coleman's Disco by Night is a work inspired by his visit to his family's homeland of Yugoslavia and was his first major solo record released by Japan's Avant label in 1992[1].Shmutsige Magnaten, in which he played the songs of Yiddish folk composer Mordechai Gebirtig, a victim of the Holocaust was also released by Tzadik Records in 2006[1]. It was recorded live at midnight in the oldest synagogue in Krakow, Poland, a few steps away from Gebirtig's birthplace during the annual Krakow Jewish Music Festival in 2005[3].

His duo albums, The Coming Great Millennium, Lobster & Friend and I Could've Been A Drum with Roy Nathanson, mostly explore the fun, frivolous and joyous alongside the nostalgic hearts and minds of Jews in modern and old America. These recordings typify Coleman's "free" playing style as well as his multi-instrumental capabilities with him also operating samplers, trombones, percussion as well as piano and voice. Coleman and Nathanson have performed all over the U.S. and Europe[1].

Coleman is also an accomplished composer with many works being commissioned by numerous ensembles including the 2006 work Pushy Blueness which was released on Tzadik Records.

Other activities

Coleman has degrees in composition from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Yale School of Music and attended Mauricio Kagel's seminar at Centre Acanthes in Aix-en-Provence, France[2].

He has received grants and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Djerassi Colony, the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Frei und Hansestadt Hamburg Kulturbehörde and the Yellow Springs Arts Center[2].

Coleman spent the spring semester of 2003 teaching theory and composition at Bennington College in Vermont[2].

In 2004 he was the subject of a three-day festival, Abstract Adventures, in Brussels, Belgium[2].

Coleman writes articles for internet avant-garde jazz review and discussion websites and BOMB Magazine and was contributor to John Zorn's avant-garde essay collection Arcana: Musicians On Music in 2000.


In the mid 90s Coleman was filmed, interviewed and acted for Claudia Heuermann's documentary film Sabbath In Paradise about the explosion of new Jewish music in the avant-garde downtown scene in New York at the time. This was followed by another Heuermann documentary about John Zorn A Bookshelf On Top Of The Sky and then a short recapping follow-up of Sabbath with the 2006 documentary Following Eden. In 2005 Coleman was interviewed for the French Marc Ribot documentary The Lost String, directed by Anais Prosaic[4].

Selected discography

  • Pushy Blueness (2006) Tzadik
  • Shmutsige Magnaten (2006) Tzadik
  • Our Beautiful Garden Is Open (2002) Tzadik
  • The Abysmal Richness of the Infinite Proximity of the Same (1998) Tzadik
  • Morenica (1998) Tzadik
  • I Could've Been A Drum (1997) Tzadik
  • Selfhaters (1996) Tzadik
  • Sephardic Tinge (1995) Tzadik
  • Lobster & Friend (1993) Knitting Factory Works
  • The Coming Great Millennium (1992) Knitting Factory Works
  • Disco by Night (1992) Avant
  • Back To The Future (2005) Ictus
  • With Every Breath: The Music Of Shabbat At BJ (1999) Knitting Factory Works
  • Music For Children (1998) Tzadik
  • New Traditions In East Asian Bar Bands (1997)
  • Duras: Duchamp (1997) Tzadik
  • Shoe String Symphonettes (1997) Tzadik
  • Bar Kokhba (1996) Tzadik
  • Kristallnacht (1994) Tzadik / Eva
  • Camp Stories (1994) Knitting Factory Works
  • Spillane (1988) Tzadik / Nonesuch
  • The Big Gundown (1986) Tzadik / Nonesuch
  • Cobra (1987) Hat Hut
  • Archery (1980) Tzadik / Parachute


  • Following Eden (2006) as himself
  • The Lost String (2005) as himself
  • A Bookshelf On Top Of The Sky: 12 Stories About John Zorn (1999) as himself
  • Sabbath In Paradise (1997) as himself


  • Latvian Counter-Gambit, for chamber orchestra
  • Mise en Abime
  • Goodbye and Good Luck
  • Dancers/Meet The Composer


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Layne, J.: Anthony Coleman Biography, Allmusic, 2007-07-17
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Coleman, A.: Anthony Coleman and Klezmer and Jewishness, New Music Box, January 1, 2005
  3. Tzadik Website Shmutsige Magnaten: Coleman Plays Gebirtig, Tzadik Website, February, 2006
  4. Gelin, Jean-Marc: Review of The Lost String, LES DERNIERES NOUVELLES DU JAZZ, June 12, 2007

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Anthony Coleman. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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