It is heartening that a bar featuring jazz of quality by players of note, even distinction, can attract a clientele predominately of the young. Perhaps it indicates a growing awareness of an art form that has been the fount of much of American music, language, and even life style.

Tenor saxophonist George Coleman, a musician of taste, authority and impressive power, has since the mid-'50s worked under leaders as diverse as B. B. King, Lionel Hampton and Miles Davis, and in recent years has led his own groups here and abroad.

The first set at One Step Down last night began with "Green Dolphin Street," a steamer that featured a marathon statement by Coleman which employed sustained tremolos up and down his horn. Pianist Reuben Brown came out of that tour de force like a fast express with bassist Reggie Johnson and drummer Hugh Walker stoking the fire.

On Rollins' "Sonny Moon For Two," a marvelous melodic conversation took place between Johnson and Coleman, the bassist's finger walking deftly in step with the tenorist's tumult of note.

Even on the ballad "My Funny Valentine," Coleman was searing-hot.

Coleman's rhythm section was apparently determined to drive him to his limits. They better watch out -- he doesn't seem to have any.

His quartet remains at the One Step Down through tomorrow.