kwami coleman (b. 1984) is a pianist, composer, and musicologist from harlem, new york city.
he received his earliest musical training from his father, earl r. coleman, a pianist and composer from brooklyn, nyc. kwami attended the fiorello h. laguardia high school for music and art and the performing arts, graduating in 2002.
having been interested in history, social politics, culture, and philosophy since childhood, kwami pursued his college studies at hunter college, cuny, while simultaneously developing his musicianship on the new york scene. he sought advanced study at stanford university, completing a ph.d. in musicology in 2014. his dissertation is titled “the 'second quintet': miles davis, the jazz avant-garde, and change, 1959-68.”
coleman has performed his original music locally; at harlem stage, the blue note, nublu, minton’s, the schomburg center for research in black culture, the maysles cinema, and new york university. internationally, kwami has presented his work in england, france, germany, venezuela, cuba, liberia, the gambia, south africa, and other lovely places.
his first studio recording is titled local music and features kwami on acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, and synthesizer, with vicente archer on acoustic and electric bass, and marcus gilmore on drumset. the ten original compositions therein are interpolated by fragments of field recordings, recorded by kwami in harlem between 2015-16, that capture the expressive life of a neighborhood in the city. the album conveys the feeling of music in and of one's local setting; a physical place and imaginary space where everyday people live and actively create their own collective localized culture.
local music is available on itunes, spotify, bandcamp, amazon music, and pandora. vinyl copies of local music are forthcoming.
kwami researches and writes on postwar jazz and American modernism, the political economy of music genre, music and locality, and other related topics. his current book project is titled: change: the “new thing” and modern jazz.
he is an assistant professor at the gallatin school of individualized study at new york university.