Christopher J. Coles graduated from Cleveland South High School in 2004 while studying with the renowned educator and saxophonist Kenneth LeeGrand. In 2009 Coles received his bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance from Youngstown State University where he studied with educators such as: Dr. James C. Umble (saxophone), Dr. Kent Englehardt (saxophone), and Dr. David Morgan (bass). Amid the development of his own style, Coles went on to receive his master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Akron in 2012.
Coles has performed with highly respected jazz musicians such as the Grammy Award winning Slide Hampton, Sean Jones, Dan Wilson, Dominick Farinacci, Eddie Baccus Sr., Melvin Burks, Kenny Davis, Glenn Holmes, Bill Ransom, Cecil Rucker, Ralph Lalama, and Allen Vizzutti to name a few. Coles was invited to perform in Italy with the Ohio Youth Jazz Orchestra where he performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra’s lead alto saxophonist, Wessell Anderson.
Coles has also played at the North American Saxophone Alliance Regional Festival in West Virginia at the International Saxophone Symposium in Washington D.C. to premiere a commissioned work by John Hollenbeck, which he later recorded on Hollenbeck’s 2009 LP Rainbow Jimmies. Coles was invited to The Banff Workshop for Jazz and Creative music in Alberta, Canada where he was granted the distinct honor of studying with some of the great jazz pioneers such as: Tia Fuller, Somi, Vijay Iyer, Billy Hart, Mark Turner, Imani Izuri, Ingrid Jensen, Zakir Hussain, Yosvany Terry, and Miles Okazaki to name a few. In 2017 Chris was an awardee of the Knight Arts Challenge in Akron, Ohio which catapulted him to receive grant funding from GAR Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation for his multimedia tribute to the victims of the 2015 mass church shooting in South Carolina appropriately titled “Nine Lives”, which premiered in 2019. Chris is a Yamaha Performing Artist currently based out of Akron, Ohio and serves on the faculty at Oberlin Conservatory, The University of Akron and The Tri-C Creative Arts JazzFest Academy where he takes pride in bridging the gap to help the next generation of jazz giants.