Steven moved to Montreal in 1975 where he joined the jazz vocal group Bug Alley Band featuring singer Karen Young. He was the group’s guitarist and one of four vocalists as well as arranger. Bug Alley went on to appear on a number radio and TV shows, the Lotto Canada Show among them, and recorded for CBC radio. An album was produced by bassist Gene Perla on PM Records.
In 1980 he became active in the Bay Area music scene after relocating to Oakland CA. This brought him together with players such as pianist Mark Levine, bassist Robb Fisher, and drummer Vince Lateano. He performed in the 1981 Monterey Jazz Festival and played a stint with Chet Baker in 1983. Steven was also guitar instructor for the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley during that time.
After moving back to NYC Steven continued his music studies taking composition at the Manhattan School of Music and City University of New York – Hunter College music program where he earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees. Steven lives in Toronto and leads his own ensembles Steven Cole group and 25 Strings guitar group. He has performed with many of Toronto’s fine jazz artists and bands such as Kingsley Ettienne, John Cheeseman’s big band, Bruce Cassidy’s Hotfoot Orchestra, Toronto Art Orchestra and The Studio 1 Orchestra among others. Steven teaches guitar at Merriam School of Music. “Steve Cole thinks he can fly. That’s why the guitarist calls his band the Thermal Quartet — and why his new indie CD is titled Soaring.”
“His nine originals on the CD are often high fliers, assisted by solid support from Nancy Walker on piano and keyboards, Henry Heillig on acoustic and electric bass, and drummer Jim Hillman. They cover the compositional waterfront from post-bop to funk, but the jazz “feel” is dominant, and the instrumentation works because it provides the right sonorities and textures.”
“The new album is impressive, with cleanly struck notes, unusual chord voicings and a barrelful of ideas that brings all members into play. There’s fine bass and keys work on the hip-hoppy opener “Flight TBA,” skipping axe lines over a deep groove in “G Wiz” and much forward momentum on “Lucky Dog.” The title track lets musicians stretch, Cole’s vigorous ideas a standout as he reaches for imaginative frontiers. There’s never a sense of musicians coasting while another is in the spotlight. The closing “Two Uptight” is far, far out — in soaring territory, in fact.”
Geoff Chapman – The Toronto Star
Steven Cole grew up in New York City and started learning music playing the violin in grade school, continuing on double-bass at the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art. During this time he taught himself to play the guitar, progressing through a variety of styles from rock, folk and bluegrass, to classical, then later to jazz. Steven was accepted into the Ithaca college music performance program as an orchestral bassist but left after a year to travel around the US, England, and France performing as a solo acoustic guitarist and singer.