Star pianist Vijay Iyer calls Steve Coleman "the most influential jazz musician since John Coltrane." To find out why, all you have to do is listen to the alto saxophonist's music: Devoted to both post-Maceo Parker funk textures and avant-garde approaches to harmony and structure, Coleman's music delights and informs the head and the heart.
Though most of his '80s and '90s catalog drifts in and out of digital print, the good news is that the indispensable label Pi Recordings has documented Coleman's most recent bands on the regular. Coleman's latest album, Functional Arrhythmias, adds guitar to the traditional jazz combo mix, while other recent recordings, including Harvesting Semblances and Affinities and The Mancy of Sound, can claim memorable performances by vocalist Jen Shyu. See the appended playlist for a quick tour through the highlights of this fearless star's most recent, amazingly productive years.