One of the last survivors from jazz’s golden age, George Coleman is not going gently into that good night, as the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas once so eloquently put it. At 88, the Memphis-born tenor saxophonist continues to give retirement the cold shoulder and is about to release a new album, George Coleman Live at Smalls Jazz Club, via Cellar Music Group. 

Released as part of Smalls Living Masters Series, the album finds an amazingly musically agile Coleman leading a quartet comprised of pianist Spike Wilner – who’s also the owner of Smalls Jazz Club – bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth. The album, recorded in the Big Apple in 2022 to coincide with Coleman’s 70th year as a professional musician, features eight tracks. Among its highlights is a beautifully bittersweet rendition of the immortal romantic ballad ‘My Funny Valentine’ and a hard-swinging take on the jazz standard ‘At Last.’ Other memorable moments include ‘Meditation,’ a wonderful reading of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova evergreen, and a terrific version of Miles Davis’ ‘Four,’ which opens the album. Throughout, Coleman plays with the verve and vigor of someone less than half his age. 

Made an NEA Jazz Master in 2015, George Coleman has released fifteen albums as a leader and also appeared on many more as a sideman. His impressive CV includes playing on notable jazz albums by Miles Davis (Seven Steps To Heaven), Herbie Hancock (Maiden Voyage), Charles Mingus (Three or Four Shades of Blues), Max Roach (Deeds, Not Words), Chet Baker (Smokin’ with the Chet Baker Quintet), Lee Morgan (Sonic Boom), and Jimmy Smith (The Sermon!). Coleman’s achievements have been recognised by his hometown, which added him to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015 and also presented him with a brass note on the Beale Street Brass Notes Walk of Fame.

George Coleman Live At Smalls is released on May 19 2023 by Cellar Music Group.