George Coleman

George Coleman

Tenor Sax icon Tenor Sax

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88 age

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March 8, 1935 Birthday

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Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. Birthplace

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George Coleman is a well-respected saxophonist, bandleader and educator. After working in Memphis and Chicago, Coleman joined Max Roach's quintet in 1958. He went on to play with Slide Hampton, Ron Carter and Jimmy Cobb before joining Miles Davis' Quintet in 1963. Although only with Davis for a year, he appeared on several major albums including "My Funny Valentine." After leaving Davis, Coleman freelanced, working with Lionel Hampton, Betty Carter, Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock and others. In the 1970s Coleman began leading his own groups and continued to perform and record through 2020. Coleman is also a dedicated educator, teaching at Mannes College, The New School for Music, and New York University, in addition to conducting master classes all over the United States.


George Coleman was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2015. George Coleman appeared in the 1992 science fiction cult film, "Freejack". George Coleman was married to jazz organist Gloria Coleman and is father to jazz drummer George Coleman Jr.

Early Life

George Coleman was born in 1935 and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He started playing the alto saxophone at age 15 and was largely self-taught. He was a quick study and just a few years later, in 1952 he was invited to go on tour with B.B. King. After the tour he returned to Memphis where he continued to develop his technique playing in the jazz clubs on Beale Street. In 1955 he rejoined B.B. King as a tenor player. A year later Coleman moved to Chicago where he played with artists such as Gene Ammons and Johnny Griffin. It was in Chicago that Max Roach heard Coleman and invited him to join him in New York. Coleman moved to New York in 1958 and has remained there since.