Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Coolman, Todd (Francis)

Coolman, Todd (Francis), bass, educator, pianist; b. Gary, Ind, 14 July 1954.

Upon graduating from the Indiana University School of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in Doublebass Performance in 1975, Coolman had $30, a bass, a '66 Volvo and a job offer from the Orquestra Symphonica Nationale de Mexico in Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. Naturally, he took the job. Overall, it was a great experience and after a year had saved a small nest egg and moved to Chicago (near where he was raised) and began a fledgling career as a free-lance bassist. Ironically, his first job offer was to play electric bass three nights a week with a Brazilian band in a Mexican restaurant!

Over the course of the next two years, he gradually became more involved in the Chicago jazz scene and gained a great deal of valuable experience as a member of a "house trio" at a jazz club where a different "big name" would come to town and perform each week. During a nine month period he performed with many jazz masters including, Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims, Buddy DeFranco, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, and the like. He was 22 years of age and fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time. Many of the aforementioned artists encouraged Coolman to move to New York and become part of arguably the most important jazz scene in the United States. He took their advice and in the fall of 1978, he and his wife Darla and their two cats threw all their stuff into a U Haul truck and moved to the Big Apple.

Since moving to New York, he has been blessed to have performed, toured world-wide and/or recorded with a virtual "who's who" of jazz artists including Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, Al Haig, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Hal Galper, and numerous others. Today, he actively performs with an impressive array of artists including: James Moody, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, and was the last bassist to perform with The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. His most recent performing involvements include concerts and club appearances with The James Moody Quartet, a group he has been associated with for 23 years, The Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, and a wide variety of free-lance work in New York City, Europe, and Japan.

In addition to his busy performing schedule, Todd is also a jazz educator. He is Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Purchase College (SUNY). He is "tweaking" the Jazz Studies Program and is pleased to see it developing to one of the finest programs in the nation. For over twenty years he has remained active as a clinician and lecturer at universities throughout the world and has written two books, The Bass Tradition and The Bottom Line. He has earned a Ph.D. in Music and Performing Arts Professions from New York University School of Education (1997) and is frequently involved as a writing and research consultant for jazz history and CD liner note projects. He won the 1998 Grammy Award for "Best Album Notes" for his lengthy contribution to the Miles Davis boxed set entitled "Miles Davis Quintet 1965-1968."

As leader:

Tomorrows (1990), Lexicon (with Joe Henderson) (1991)
As sideman:
James Moody: Something Special (1986), Moving Forward (1987), Sweet and Lovely (1989), Honey (1990), Young at Heart (1995), Moody Plays Mancini (1997); Ahmad Jamal: Live in Paris (1992); Terry Gibbs: Chicago Fire (1987), Holiday for Swing (1988); Hal Galper: Invitation to a Concert, Live in Port Townsend (1991); David Newman: Blue Head ; Bobby Watson: Advance Bop; Lionel Hampton: Made in Japan; John Campbell: After Hours; Rob Schneiderman: Radio Waves

Motion Picture Soundtracks:
Cape Fear, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Doc Hollywood, Biloxi Blues, 101 Dalmatians, Mercury Rising, Deep Impact

Jazziz , July 1992, pp.15 - "Traditions" by Bob Young
T.C., 1990 The Bottom Line, Aebersold Publishing
T.C., 1985 The Bass Tradition, Aebersold Publishing
T.C., Miles Davis mid-1960s quintet, booklet to accompany boxed CD set for March 1998 release.
T.C., Miles Davis Kind of Blue interactive website; supplied text and detailed musical analysis.
T.C., various Articles and Music Criticism in Downbeat, Jazz Educators Journal, International Society of Bassists (Journal)

2001-2003 Doris and Carl Kempner Distinguished Professorship,
Purchase College (SUNY)
1998 Grammy Award winner Author of album notes for "Miles Davis Quintet 1965-1968"
National Endowment For The Arts
Special Projects Grants (2)

Contact information:
Web: www.toddcoolman.com

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