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Backstage at the hi hat

Apr 21, 2021

Theron and Tom head backstage with Chris Coles, a musician, composer and educator from Cleveland, to talk about his career, dive into the entry points for exploring jazz music, and discuss his Nine Lives Project, which deals with the Charleston church shooting in 2015.

The Nine Lives Project is an interdisciplinary multi-movement suite intended to heighten awareness of ongoing racial injustice in America. Chris first performed Nine Lives in 2015 as a workshop at the Bop Stop in Cleveland, before eventually turning it into a 40-minute performance piece thanks in part to a Knight Arts Challenge grant. The piece made its Akron debut at the Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival in 2019. (Learn more about the project at the Nine Lives Facebook page.)

Chris has performed with several local and international jazz musicians, studied with some of the great pioneers in jazz, and is an instructor in the school of music at Kent State University.

Some of his recent accomplishments include being a participant at The Banff Workshop for Jazz and Creative music in Alberta, Canada, playing at the North American Saxophone Alliance Regional Festival in West Virginia with the Dana Saxophone quartet, performing at the International Saxophone Symposium in Washington D.C., and premiering a commissioned work by John Hollenbeck at the Whitney Art Museum Composers Workshop.

Chris is one of Cleveland’s Most Interesting People for 2021, as selected by Cleveland magazine.