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Todd Coolman

Adjunct Professor of Music (Jazz Studies - Bass)


Todd Coolman is adjunct professor of music in jazz studies–bass at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

He studied classical bass at the Jacobs School with Murray Grodner, earning a Bachelor of Music in Bass Performance in 1975. Among his classmates was bassist John Clayton. During his time at IU, Coolman completed every jazz class taught by the late Distinguished Professor David Baker and performed in Baker’s big band and quintet.

Since moving to New York in 1978, Coolman has performed and/or recorded with a virtual “who’s who” of jazz artists, including Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan, Ahmad Jamal, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and numerous others. Coolman enjoyed a 25-year stint with the James Moody Quartet and continues to actively perform today with an impressive array of artists, including Jon Faddis, Charles McPherson, and Renee Rosnes. He has released four CDs as a leader: Tomorrows, Lexicon, Perfect Strangers, and Collectables.

Coolman has authored two influential jazz bass books, The Bass Tradition and The Bottom Line. After earning a doctorate in music from New York University in 1997, he joined the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College–State University of New York (SUNY) and subsequently served as director of jazz studies for 10 years. During that time, he was selected for the 2001-03 Doris and Karl Kempner Distinguished Professorship at Purchase, and he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2010, he was appointed director of the Skidmore Jazz Institute.

In addition to his busy schedule performing and teaching, Coolman is in demand as a clinician and lecturer at universities throughout the world, and he is frequently sought after as a writing and research consultant for jazz history and CD liner-notes projects.