Jaz Coleman

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Template:Infobox musical artist

Jeremy "Jaz" Coleman (born 26 February 1960, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England is a musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer. He is notable for his vocal contributions to rock band Killing Joke. In addition, he is also the band's keyboardist and has composed orchestral and soundtrack pieces.


Coleman was born in Cheltenham to an English father and an Anglo-Indian mother who are both school teachers. He studied piano and violin under Eric Coleridge, head of music for Cheltenham College, until the age of 17 and was a member of several cathedral choirs in England. In 1973, Jaz was awarded the Rex Watson Cup at the Cheltenham International Festival of Music. Jaz Coleman studied in Leipzig DDR in 1987 and Cairo Conservatoire in 1979 where he made an extensive study of Arabic quartertones. According to his own account, Coleman also studied international banking for three years in Switzerland[1] and is an ordained priest, with a church in New Zealand.[2]

He is a supporter of the concept of environmental sustainability and has invested in the creation of two eco-villages in the South Pacific and in Chile.[3] Yet Coleman holds four passports and has residences in Prague, Switzerland, and New Zealand. He has been married twice and has children. He claims that he has an IQ of over 190.

Together with Malcolm Welsford, he founded the York Street Recording Studio in New Zealand.

Killing Joke

Template:Main In 1978 he founded Killing Joke with drummer Paul Ferguson in Notting Hill, London with whom he recruited guitarist Geordie Walker and bassist Martin Glover (aka Youth). The group released its first single in October 1979 and their first eponymous album was released in 1980. Coleman contributed lead vocals and keyboards to the bands' songs, and thanks to his stage persona and Walker's guitar sound and playing, the group soon became pioneers of a post-punk heavy guitar sound that has inspired industrial rock and metal genres. Known for controversial political and social opinions, the events of Coleman's public life are intertwined with his colourful association with Killing Joke. He is known for his aggressive and powerful stage presence, and sense of ritualistic pageantry in movement and dress.Template:Citation needed Whilst his stage voice is a particularly harsh growl (which has become more aggressive over the years), albums such as Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, Night Time and Outside The Gate proved he could also sing impressively in a standard rock/pop manner. He remains active in both recording and touring with the band.

File:Jaz Coleman - Ilosaarirock 2009.jpg
Jaz Coleman performing at the 2009 Ilosaarirock festival.

Solo composition and recordings

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.Template:Citation needed 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,[4] 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.[5][6]

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,[7] 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.Template:Citation needed

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 Trzilova,[8] 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 IRCAM to compose a three-part concerto Music of the Quantum,[9] 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.[10] The event was performed at Columbia University to a spectacular response. It was repeated the following year at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague.Template:Citation needed

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,[11] a gesture appropriate to Coleman’s interest in themes of renaissance, collaboration, and working in parallels.

Coleman has contributed to many American film soundtracks, such as Walt Disney’s Mulan with Vanessa Mae, Weird Science, Cinderella (Channel 4 movie), and Showgirls, however his passion for film soundtrack composition is firmly rooted in the Eastern European film tradition.Template:Citation needed

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. Coleman has recently completed a second work with Nigel Kennedy and the Kroke Trio in the role of friend and producer (East Meets East, EMI Classics).[12]

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.[13] He also toured with Killing Joke in the early part of the year and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Kerrang! magazine.Template:Citation needed 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.Template:Citation needed

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.[14] Coleman was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for his contribution to contemporary music.[15] He was decorated by the French government on 27 September 2010, while Killing Joke were in concert at the Bataclan in Paris.[16]

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”.[17]


In 2002 Coleman starred in a Czech film by Petr Zelenka Rok ďábla (Year of the Devil) and also conducted and composed the soundtrack, which has reached fifteen-times platinum status. The film has become a multiple award-winning cult classic (Crystal Globe, Czech Lion). Switching to yet another artistic role, he has been co-directing a documentary-style music film called "The Death And Resurrection Show", named after a song on Killing Joke's 2003 album.[18] He also appeared on the soundtrack to Disney's animated feature film Mulan (1998).


Coleman is writing a book about permaculture, free energy, freedom and freedom-loving individuals.[19] The book is planned to be published in 2009.[20]



External links

Template:Killing Joke

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