Ira Coleman

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor, Area Coordinator

Ira Coleman
Music Performance
Contact Information

Strathcona Music Building

Email address: 
ira.coleman [at]
Bass (Jazz)
Area Coordinator

Ira Coleman was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Raised in Southern France, Ira thereafter lived in Germany for fourteen years. While in Germany, Ira Coleman studied double bass at Cologne’s Hochschule für Musik and subsequently came a move to the US to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. 

“I have very strong ties to Europe,” says Ira who is fluent in French and German. “My mother was Swedish and a famous silversmith and designer, and my father was a painter and graphic artist from Baltimore. The place to go was Paris. My parents met many expatriate artists, writers and musicians.” Among visitors to Ira’s childhood home were Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Charlie Mingus and Chester Himes. Ira got his inspiration at an early age, though he didn’t actually pick up a bass until he was 19 years old. 

“The bass fits my character,” says Ira, who graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1985. “In most musical genres the bass is the pivotal center piece, the instrument which provides a discrete and clear foundation, and I enjoy the many challenges its function poses.” 

Ira’s resumé tells the story. Currently residing in Rhinebeck, NY, over the years he has worked with such well-known figures as Cab Calloway, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, Milt Jackson, Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Jessye Norman, Grover Washington Jr., Barbara Hendricks, Sting, Kathleen Battle, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Ensemble, and The Duke Ellington Orchestra under the direction of Mercer Ellington, among many others. He was musical director for vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and toured with her internationally from 2002 until 2009. 

One night he’s on the stage at Carnegie Hall playing in a tribute to African-American culture. The next morning he is on a plane to Europe to collaborate on a recording or heading to Japan for a jazz festival. As comfortable playing Jamaican rhythms as he is accompanying a gospel choir or performing in a Jazz trio, this professional bass player has built an international reputation for versatility. 

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