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Steve Colson: Doing Jazz Justice

By Published: April 14, 2010
AAJ: Now I'd like to get to some of your other projects, like Blue Ark with Amiri Baraka.

SC: First of all, Amiri's a very great poet. I think he's the greatest poet in the language... We've worked with Ellington pieces, some Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966

AAJ: With Baraka I would have expected something like Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler
1936 - 1970
sax, tenor

SC: Yeah, we do that to. Also, a composition based on the works of Willie "The Lion" Smith
Willie "The Lion" Smith
1897 - 1973
, who was from Newark, and was Duke Ellington's teacher.

AAJ: How about "Greens, Rice and a Rope"? Great title!

SC: I did that in 1989.

AAJ: Now I imagine that relates to slavery. Is the rope a noose?

SC: Yes, but it also has other meanings, like something that binds and ties together. It was based in part on Ellington's "Black, Brown and Beige."

AAJ: You've been compared, to Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
and Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
on the one hand, and Luciano Berio and Stravinsky on the other. How do you take that? Would you rather be just seen as yourself?

SC: That's cool. If someone thinks I'm like Mingus, I'm happy with that...But I'll tell you, one night I was playing at Sweet Basil [New York City], and Art Blakey came up to me afterward, and he grabbed me around the shoulder and shook me! And he said, "You guys sounded great!" And to have someone like that, who you've looked up to all your life...

AAJ: Validation from one of your heroes is hard to beat.

Selected Discography

Steve Colson, The Untarnished Dream (Silver Sphinx, 2010)

Steve & Iqua Colson, Hope for Love (Silver Sphinx, 2003)

Bright Moments, Return of the Lost Tribe (Delmark, 1998)

Andrew Cyrille Quintet, Ode to the Living Tree (Evidence, 1997)

Andrew Cyrille Quintet, My Friend Louis (DIW, 1992)

The Colson Unity Troupe, No Reservation (Black Saint, 1980)

Photo Credits

Page 1: Sharon Sullivan Rubin, Courtesy of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)

Page 3: Sharon Sullivan Rubin , Courtesy of Fully Altered Media

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