Jeremy “Jaz” Coleman (born 26 February 1960, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England) is a musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer. He came to prominence in the early 1980s as the lead vocalist and sometime keyboardist of post punk group Killing Joke. In addition, Coleman has composed orchestral and soundtrack pieces.
Coleman once quit Killing Joke temporarily following a gig in 1982. The day after he travelled to Iceland and announced his intention to become a classical composer. Ten years of studying and ongoing Killing Joke involvement later, he took up conducting and worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras.
Conductor Klaus Tennstedt described him as a “new Mahler”. Coleman has studied and played music from many cultures, and is a multi-instrumentalist. He studied Arabic music at the Cairo Conservatoire and has a passion for Czech folk music and Māori music, among others. One of his Māori pieces is the Second Symphony for Māori Voice and Orchestra. Along with Anne Dudley of Art of Noise, in 1990 Coleman co-wrote and co-performed the middle-eastern instrumental album called Songs From the Victorious City, which refers to Cairo, Egypt.
1994 saw the release of Symphonic Music of the Rolling Stones, which featured eleven Rolling Stones songs performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, produced by Martin Glover and engineered by Chris Kimsey and Malcolm Welsford. Coleman arranged the majority of the songs. In 1995 he released his first of three albums of symphonic rock music. Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd, which peaked at number one in the Billboard Magazine Top Classical Crossover Albums chart, and Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin were both written and produced by Coleman with Peter Scholes conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. On 8 June 2007, Coleman collaborated with over 150 youth musicians in the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, based in Cleveland, Ohio, USA to perform the entirety of Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin along with additional orchestrations of Led Zeppelin’s music. In 1999 he produced and arranged an album of Doors material for orchestra, performed by classical musicians including Nigel Kennedy and the Prague Symphony Orchestra, called Riders on the Storm: The Doors Concerto (CD released in 2000). He has worked with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, who have issued a CD of his Symphony No. 1 “Idavoll” with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and as composer in residence to the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
In 2001 Coleman was commissioned by the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden London for his first large scale opera entitled The Marriage at Cana, which in essence is the Gnostic theme of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene and her subsequent exile to Provence (predating Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code). The libretto was composed by genealogist Sir Laurence Gardner, author of the controversial bestseller Bloodline of the Holy Grail. The nine acts of the opera were painted by the oil-on-canvas artist Andrew Jones, whose work was exhibited at the premiere of the opera on December 9, 2001 at the Royal Opera House. The opera received great critical acclaim and is to be recorded with Sarah Brightman.
Also commissioned by the Royal Opera House was Coleman’s Unwanted, a concerto grosso for violin, viola and string orchestra whose theme portrays the plight of the Romany people of central Europe. This work was in collaboration with Czech photographer Jana Tržilová, whose portraits of the Roma taken within her own country moved the composer with their deep compassion and humanity.
On March 22, 2003, he was commissioned by the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter ICAM to compose a three-part concerto Music of the Quantum, expressing the ideas of the quantum and emergence in musical form, which he co-produced with his older brother, Piers Coleman (born 13 February 1958), who is a condensed matter physicist at Rutgers University. The event was performed at Columbia University to a spectacular response. It was repeated the following year at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague.
On March 22, Sir Laurence Gardner’s book Secrets of the Lost Ark, which expounds on anti-gravity and prehistory, was published. Coleman and Gardner publicly exchanged their work (book and scores) at the Occulture Lectures in Brighton on July 20, 2003, a gesture appropriate to Coleman’s interest in themes of renaissance, collaboration, and working in parallels.
In April 2002, Coleman received an outstanding three Grammies and quadruple platinum sales for his concerto for the Czech folk group and orchestra production entitled Promeny. 2003 saw Promeny being performed in 8,000-10,000 seat auditoriums throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia. That same year, Coleman completed a second work with Nigel Kennedy and the Kroke Trio in the role of friend and producer of their album, East Meets East, released through EMI Classics.
In 2004 and 2005 he arranged the Sarah Brightman album Harem and wrote a further 12 Arias to be recorded with her. He also continues with his work as composer in residence of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. In early 2006 Joseph McManners performed Coleman’s Daughter of England at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic to standing ovation. He also toured with Killing Joke in the early part of the year and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Kerrang! magazine. International premieres of Coleman’s classical works are too numerous to mention.
In 2008, Coleman outlined an alternative educational programme based on Renaissance principles with the aim of promoting the principles of self-education. He completed a series of arias for mezzo-soprano titled The Secret Pilgrimage based on the sacred sites he visited during that year. Coleman became composer-in-residence of Berlin’s Kammerorchester.
In 2009, Coleman recorded the Nirvana Suite with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and played summer festivals across Europe with Killing Joke. Coleman travelled from Japan to South India with former bandmate Paul Raven’s ashes and participated in Pradakshina.
In 2010, so far Coleman has completed his Magna Suscitatio for solo violin, chorus and full orchestra, which illustrates the process of transformation and illumination of the human condition “from our current barbaric state”. Coleman has also set to work on an ambitious programme with the Prague Chamber Orchestra and is currently in discussion about a series of concerts whilst preparing for a world tour with his beloved Killing Joke. Coleman’s second symphony recorded by the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra is due for release with the Nirvana Suite. He is currently writing a mass for choir and orchestra consisting of Killing Joke’s music with the original lyrics translated into Latin for full chorus for a recording and two nights in London in 2011. He is also passionate about setting up the European-Pacific Academy of Renaissance Arts, which he intends to base in New Zealand and different locations around Europe. Jaz Coleman is completing his first literary work which promotes the principles of self-education he has benefited from throughout his life. Coleman is actively involved in the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centres of New Zealand. Coleman is open about the source of his inspiration, noting “my entire outlook has been shaped by Rosicrucian principles”.
Biography extract courtesy of Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaz_Coleman)