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Kwami Coleman

Assistant Professor
(212) 992-6323
411 Laf, Room 310

B.A. & M.A. Music and Musicology, Hunter College, CUNY, 2007
Ph.D. Musicology, Stanford University, 2014

Kwami Coleman is a pianist, composer, and musicologist specializing in improvised music. His research interests include experimental music history, jazz history, the history and music cultures of the African Diaspora, the political economy of music, music technology, aesthetics, and cultural studies. Coleman's current book project, in production, is titled Change: The "New Thing" and Modern Jazz. His 2017 album is titled Local Music, and features original music written for trio and field recordings. His upcoming electronic recording project is titled POLY. Coleman was a founding member of the Afro-Latin@ Forum, a non-profit organization devoted to the study and increased visibility of Latinos of African descent in the United States, now housed in NYU’s Steinhardt School.

Teaching and Research Interests

improvised music; twentieth and twenty-first century music; experimental and electronic music; music technology and mass media; aesthetics and historiography; diasporic studies; race and ethnicity; modernity and postmodernity

Recent News


Coleman is the recipient of a 2020 Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship.


In February 2017, Gallatin Faculty member Kwami Coleman released the Kwami Coleman Trio's debut jazz album Local Music. The release features 10 original compositions, some of which interpolate field recordings that captured between 2014-2016 in Coleman's neighborhood of Harlem.


Coleman premiered the electric piano piece “Pregonera” along with a selection of prepared audio at the University of New Mexico’s Department of Music on March 7, 2020.

Coleman premiered the piece, “Past Leaves (Peanuts),” a 30-minute piece for electric piano, drum set, with prepared audio for a Black History Month event series by the Black Studies Department at The University of Missouri on February 15, 2020.

Coleman, with the other members of the Kwami Coleman Trio, performed songs from the album Local Music at Harlem Stage on March 2, 2016.

He played a gala to benefit the SBI Performing Arts Program at A. Philip Randolph High School in Harlem on May 19, 2016.


Coleman contributed the chapter “If Beale Street Could Talk, what’d be playing in the background? First notes on music, film, time and memory” for Transmedia Directors: Artistry, Industry, and New Audiovisual Aesthetics (Bloomsbury Press, December 2019).

His article “Everyone's Creative: George E. Lewis and Ubiquitous Improvisation,” was published in the Teachers College Record, Vol. 117, No. 10.

Coleman was invited as a keynote lecturer for the Graduate Student Symposium at Yale University’s Music Department on February 28-29, 2020.

Coleman spoke at Stanford University’s “Cardinal Chat,” held by The Fourth Annual Stanford University Black Alumni Summit at The Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, CA on April 5, 2019.

Coleman was invited to “Heterophony: Texture, Technique, and Social Commentary,” part of the Musicology Colloquium Series at The University of Mexico in Albuquerque, NM, on March 7, 2019.

Coleman organized and moderated a panel in the 24th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference, held in New York, New York on May 19-22, 2016.

Coleman was a panelist at the NYU-sponsored symposium on the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Basquiat: Still Fly at 55, held in Brooklyn, New York on March 26, 2016.

Kwami Coleman

Kwami Coleman Trio's debut jazz album Local Music

Kwami Coleman Trio's debut jazz album Local Music