Steve Colson

Colson 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 Steve Colson Day by Mayor Sharp 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. His music has been compared to that of Monk, Mingus, and Ellington as well as Ives, Berio, and Stravinsky. His career has taken him throughout the world performing with many talented artists. Musicians with whom Steve has worked or featured in his presentations include Muhal Richard Abrams, Ed Blackwell, John Blake, Hamiet Bluiett, 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, 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, and many other talented artists. He has been a member of the internationally recognized musicians collective, The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM,) since 1972.

He worked with Amiri Baraka and Max Roach on their bopera,“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, “ in a Cultural Reminiscence,” was the first world premiere to be presented in The New Jersey Performing Arts Center during the opening season. Steve also conducted and arranged the music of Willie the Lion Smith for the national Lost Jazz Shrines project which was also presented in this area at NJPAC.

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 faculties at Bloomfield College in New Jersey, and Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York, where he teaches World Music, History of African American Music, Intro to Music Technology, and Piano.

Steve’s work as a pianist and composer is found on American, European and Japanese record labels, including Columbia/Sony, Evidence, and Black Saint. On his most recent recording he appears with ASCAP award winning composer Baikida Carroll on his CD, Marionettes on a High Wire, which hit number one on jazz radio play lists throughout the country and Europe. He is married to Iqua Colson, a singer, arts administrator, and award winning lyricist. They have two sons. The Colsons live in Montclair, N.J., approximately 15 miles from Manhattan.