When it comes to the Art of Jazz, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the MacArthur Foundation seem to run along parallel tracks. No sooner comes negotiation and announcement of a forward-thinking jazz artist to the gallery's Art of Jazz series than comes the major announcement of a MacArthur "genius" grant to that artist. Sometimes that order is reversed but they do seem to go together.
In 2011, the great pianist and composer Jason Moran came to the Art of Jazz series as part of Charles Lloyd's group a couple months after winning a MacArthur.
The latest to do so will be Steve Coleman who won a MacArthur a little more than a month ago. He'll be at the art gallery's Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 with his group The Five Elements.
Coleman is a leader of the group M-Base Concepts as well as a founder and has been since the '80s. M-Base, back then, was a loose coalition of forward-thinking jazz musicians including Geri Allen, Robin Eubanks, Greg Osby and, most surprising and significantly singer Cassandra Wilson.
As all artistic avant-gardes know, it helps if you can talk a good game full of abstract syntax with your new system. M-Base is short for Macro-Based Array of Structural Extemporizations. Coleman's music is much more intriguing and less formidable than that.
The MacArthur announcement called him "an alto saxophonist and composer whose technical virtuosity and engagement with musical traditions and styles from around the world are expanding the expressive and formal possibilities of spontaneous composition." In other words, jazz.
You'll be able to hear for yourself what he does on Saturday night. Tickets are $29, $24 for Albright-Knox gallery members. The full schedule is available here.