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Steve Colson

Montclair, NJ      

Adegoke Steve Colson is a Grammy-nominated pianist and composer whose work has been recorded on labels that include Columbia/Sony, Evidence, and Black Saint. His Solo Piano recording Tones For received The Jazz Times Editor’s Choice; his prior recordings as leader have also had international recognition and high praise – such as The Untarnished Dream with Jazz Legends Andrew Cyrille and Reggie Workman, and wife and musical partner Iqua Colson – a CD voted into the top 10 % of the annual Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll. His work has been discussed/reviewed in many languages in countless magazines, newspapers, periodicals, and in several books.

Steve, inducted into the East Orange Hall of Fame in 2018, joined such notable artists as Dionne Warwick, Naughty By Nature, John Amos, and Whitney Houston. His compositions have become part of the repertoire of other great musicians. Steve is an early member of the influential Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). His jazz ensembles, ranging from trios to orchestras, have included David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis, Rachelle Farrell, Joseph Jaman, Tyshawn Sorey, and Oliver Lake, and as headliner he has shared billing with such luminaries as Muhal Richard Abrams, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Betty Carter, Joe Henderson, Tito Puente, and Ray Charles. He has collaborated with visual artists Willie Cole and Don Miller, literary masters Amiri Baraka and Richard Wesley, and as Musical Director (Black Girl in Search of God) worked with legendary dancer Carmen de Lavallade.

 He has received composition grants from New Jersey and Illinois State Arts Councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. Organizations commissioning his work include New Jersey Chamber Music Society, Meet The Composer, AT&T, and Absolut Jazz. His unique compositional voice has been compared to Monk, Mingus, and Ellington as well as Ives, Berio, and Stravinsky. His major works include “…as in a Cultural Reminiscence…”, the first original work performed at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) during opening season; he orchestrated and conducted the works of stride master Willie “The Lion” Smith for Lost Jazz Shrines, a national project tied to U.S. Congressional Resolution declaring Jazz a “national treasure” – aired on PBS; NJPAC commissioned him for the 350th Anniversary of The City of Newark and he composed Here Is The Place, Our City. On-screen performances include conducting his Jazz Orchestra for Mezzo Channel in Europe; his role as “the piano player” in Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese’s HBO’s series, Vinyl; and recent documentary, “The Takeover – The Revolution of the Black Experience at Northwestern University,” on the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 Takeover of N.U.’s Bursar’s Office. He was one of strategists of what is called the most successful takeover of a major American University.

 Steve was one of 23 educators selected by the NEA to pilot the concept of Artist Residencies in the 1980s. He teaches at Bloomfield College and lectures internationally.

Steve and Iqua formed their record label in 1979. In November 2011, their label’s earliest recording, Triumph!, was included in the prestigious Freedom, Rhythm and Sound Book / CD-LP compilation from Soul Jazz Records, London, UK with music icons Maurice White, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Mary Lou Williams and others. This collection documents the influential musicians who took control of their music in the late 60s and 70s – early roots of the “indie” movement.