I had the exceptional honor and good fortune to be able to meet with Master George Coleman at his home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
I don’t know what it is, but when I meet other saxophone players it usually starts out with a quick repair job. So while we waited for another great saxophonist to arrive, I took care of George’s sticky G# key.
In case you don’t know, George Coleman is one of the greatest saxophone players in the history of jazz. He’s got an extensive discography. He’s recorded on some legendary albums such as Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage and Miles Davis’s Seven Steps to Heaven.
He was named an NEA jazz master in 2015 and is still going strong here at 86 years old.
A few weeks earlier I had sent George one of my BetterSax Burnin’ alto mouthpieces which he’s been playing on.
George talked to me a lot about the importance of playing in all 12 keys. But I really loved hearing about his Memphis roots and the early days playing in blues bands.
Perhaps my favorite moment was when George demonstrated how he approached playing the blues in different musical contexts. He’s so talented. It’s truly amazing how Coleman went from picking up the saxophone for the first time to playing with Max Roach a few years later.
During my visit, he played the saxophone A LOT. One thing I noticed is that he was always playing a tune, never noodling around.
He is an extremely kind and generous man who is grossly underrated in the saxophone hierarchy.
I’ve been checking out a lot more George Coleman recordings lately and I strongly recommend that you do the same. Don’t sleep on George Coleman his playing is right up there among the best of all time. You can hear more of his playing here.
I hope you got some valuable insights, and a little bit of history from this video. I’m so grateful to George Coleman for inviting us into his home and sharing his knowledge and experience with us.
This was truly a special treat for the saxophone world. A big thank you to Eric Alexander who set the whole thing up. Be sure to check out Eric’s course 21 Major Key Explorations.
Want more interviews with great saxophone players? Check out “A Saxophone Lesson with George Garzone.”