Adegoke Steve Colson
ADEGOKE STEVE COLSON, pianist and composer, has performed internationally as a leader of jazz ensembles ranging from trios to orchestras. Born in Newark and raised in East Orange, NJ, he received his degree from Northwestern University School of Music and spent several years in Chicago before returning to the East Coast where he now resides. November 13, 1989 was proclaimed Adegoke Steve Colson Day by Mayor Sharpe James and the Newark City Council in honor of the premiere of his multi-media work, Greens, Rice, and a Rope, at Newark Symphony Hall during the national celebration of New Music America.
A critically acclaimed figure in modern jazz, Steve’s compositions are finding their way into the “jazz standard” repertoire and are being performed and recorded by some of today’s jazz greats as well as by his own group.
Steve has received several commissions and awards for composition from organizations with interests in the arts. He became a member of The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians in the early 70s (AACM), a musicians’ collective that has influenced music internationally in the 20th and 21st Century. Steve’s music has been compared to that of Monk, Mingus, and Ellington as well as Ives, Berio, and Stravinsky. He has been the recipient of awards for composition and piano and his career has taken him throughout the world performing with many talented artists; those with whom he has worked or featured in his presentations include Muhal Richard Abrams, Pheeroan AkLaff, Ed Blackwell, John Blake, Hamiet Bluiett, T.K. Blue, Andrew Cyrille, Baikida Carroll, Anthony Davis, Richard Davis, Kahil El’ Zabar, Douglas Ewart, Rachelle Farrell, Malachi Favors, Joe Ford, Rafael Donald Garrett, Benny Golson, Craig Harris, Fred Hopkins, Joseph Jarman, Leroy Jenkins, Oliver Lake, George Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Steve McCall, Andy McCloud, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Rene McLean, T.S. Monk, Butch Morris, Dushun Mosley, David Murray, Hannibal Peterson, Rufus Reid, Max Roach, Marlena Shaw, Dakota Staton, Henry Threadgill, Steve Turre, Chris White, Ed Wilkerson, Reggie Workman, Rev. Frank Wright, and many other gifted artists.
He regularly appeared with the Spirit of Life Ensemble, and is currently a member of Amiri and Amina Baraka’s Blue Ark.
Steve arranged and conducted the music of Willie “The Lion” Smith for the national Lost Jazz Shrines project which was an outgrowth of a United States Congressional Resolution declaring Jazz a “national treasure.” Tributes were presented in all major cities where jazz has flourished. Steve’s work on “The Lion’s” music represented the City of Newark, N.J. He recently worked as Music Director for the play, Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, by Canadian playwright Djanet Sears with a cast that included the legendary Carmen de Lavallade. He worked with Amiri Baraka and Max Roach on their bopera,“The Life and Life of Bumpy Johnson,” and was commissioned to collaborate with Amiri Baraka and Richard Wesley by the New Jersey Chamber Music Society. The second book of their series, “...as in a Cultural Reminiscence…” was the first world premiere to be presented in New Jersey Performing Arts Center during the opening season.
Steve has been involved in education throughout his professional career, serving as one of 23 jazz artists selected nationwide to pilot the Jazz Artists in the Schools Program when the Artists in Residence program was conceived by The National Endowment for the Arts in the early 1980s. He has done workshops and residencies throughout the world and currently is a member of the faculty at Bloomfield College in New Jersey where he teaches World Music, History of African American Music, Intro to Music Technology, and Piano.
Steve is married to Iqua Colson - singer, lyricist and arts administrator. The Colsons live approximately 12 miles from New York City in Montclair, N.J. They have two grown sons.
Steve enjoyed standing ovations in France when his orchestra performed in Lille and Paris in 2004 during the popular music festival Sons d’hiver. The enthusiastic response to these televised performances refocused him on touring his larger collaborative works. His work as a pianist and composer is found on American, European and Japanese record labels, including Columbia/Sony, Evidence, and Black Saint. His recordings with other artists include work on one of David Murray’s early octet recordings, New Life, which was dubbed one of the top ten CDs of the decade - and on ASCAP award-winning composer Baikida Carroll’s CD, Marionettes on a High Wire, which hit number one on jazz radio play lists throughout the country and Europe. His latest CD as a leader is Hope for Love, a collaborative effort with Iqua and he is featured on the 2006 release Music for My Love Ones led by drummer Kevin Cook. Duane Eubanks, T.K. Blue and Curtis Lundy are also featured on this CD.