Anthony Coleman (born August 30, 1955) is an American musician. Coleman is a piano and keyboard (piano, organ, sampler, harmonium) 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. During the 1980s and 1990s 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.
At the age of thirteen, Coleman started studying piano with Jaki Byard. At the New England Conservatory he studied with George Russell, Donald Martino and Malcolm Peyton.
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 musics. 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.
Sephardic Tinge toured extensively, especially throughout Europe, in the 1990s and the early 2000s.
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.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. It was recorded live at midnight in the oldest synagogue of Kraków, Poland, a few steps away from Gebirtig's birthplace during the annual Kraków Jewish Music Festival in 2005.
His duo albums, The Coming Great Millenium, 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.
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.
Relatively recent activity has included a work for quartet, Damaged by Sunlight, issued on DVD in France by La Huit, the CD Freakish: Anthony Coleman plays Jelly Roll Morton (Tzadik); a month – long residency in Venice as a guest of Venetian Heritage, a commission for the Parisian Ensemble Erik Satie: Echoes From Elsewhere; tours of Japan and Europe with guitarist Marc Ribot’s band Los Cubanos Postizos; a lecture/performance as part of the symposium Anton Webern und das Komponieren im 20. Jahrhundert (Neue Perspektiven, Basel, Switzerland)and a commission from the String Orchestra of Brooklyn (Empfindsamer).
He has been on the faculty of New England Conservatory since 2005. His most recent CD is The End of Summer (Tzadik), which features his NEC Ensemble Survivors Breakfast.
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.
He has received grants and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Djerassi Colony, the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg Kulturbehörde and the Yellow Springs Arts Center.
Coleman spent the spring semester of 2003 teaching theory and composition at Bennington College in Vermont.
In 2004 he was the subject of a three-day festival, Abstract Adventures, in Brussels, Belgium.
Coleman writes articles for internet avant-garde jazz review and discussion websites All About Jazz and BOMB Magazine and was contributor to John Zorn's avant-garde essay collection Arcana: Musicians On Music in 2000.
In the mid 1990s 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.
- Disco by Night (Avant, 1992)
- The Coming Great Millenium... (Knitting Factory, 1992) - with Roy Nathanson
- Lobster and Friend (Knitting Factory, 1993) - with Roy Nathanson
- Sephardic Tinge (Tzadik, 1995)
- Selfhaters (Tzadik, 1996)
- I Could've Been a Drum (Tzadik, 1997) - with Roy Nathanson
- The Abysmal Richness of the Infinite Proximity of the Same (Tzadik, 1998)
- Morenica (Tzadik, 1998)
- With Every Breath: The Music of Shabbat at BJ (Knitting Factory, 1999)
- Our Beautiful Garden is Open (Tzadik, 2002)
- Shmutsige Magnaten (Tzadik, 2006)
- Pushy Blueness (Tzadik, 2006)
- Lapidation (New World, 2007)
- Freakish (Tzadik, 2009)
- The End of Summer (Tzadik, 2013)
With Ron Anderson
- Secret Curve (Tzadik, 2011)
With Andrea Centazzo
- Back to the Future (Ictus, 2005)
With Dave Douglas
- Sanctuary (Avant, 1997)
With David Krakauer
- Klezmer Madness! (Tzadik, 1995)
With Ikue Mori
- B/Side (Tzadik, 1998)
- One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (Tzadik, 2000)
With Marc Ribot
- Rootless Cosmopolitans (Island, 1990)
- Requiem for What's His Name (Les Disques du Crepuscule, 1992)
- Shoe String Symphonettes (Tzadik, 1997)
- The Prosthetic Cubans (Atlantic, 1998)
- ¡Muy Divertido! (Atlantic, 2000)
- Scelsi Morning (Tzadik, 2003)
- Soundtracks Volume 2 (Tzadik, 2003)
With Wadada Leo Smith
- Lake Biwa (Tzadik, 2003)
With John Zorn
- Archery (Parachute, 1982)
- The Big Gundown (Nonesuch, 1986)
- Cobra (Hat Hut, 1986)
- Spillane (Elektra Nonesuch, 1987)
- Filmworks 1986–1990 (Elektra Nonesuch, 1992)
- Kristallnacht (Eva, 1993)
- John Zorn's Cobra: Live at the Knitting Factory (Knitting Factory, 1995)
- Filmworks II: Music for an Untitled Film by Walter Hill (Tzadik, 1996)
- Filmworks III: 1990–1995 (Tzadik, 1996)
- Bar Kokhba (Tzadik, 1996)
- Filmworks IV: S&M + More (Tzadik, 1997)
- New Traditions in East Asian Bar Bands (Tzadik, 1997)
- Duras: Duchamp (Tzadik, 1997)
- The Parachute Years (Tzadik, 1997)
- Filmworks VIII: 1997 (Tzadik, 1998)
- The Bribe (Tzadik, 1998)
- Music for Children (Tzadik, 1998)
- Godard/Spillane (Tzadik, 1999)
- Voices in the Wilderness (Tzadik, 2003)
- 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