Ever the thinker, saxophonist Steve Coleman now delves into the connection between human biology and music with Functional Arrhythmias, perhaps his most accessible release in recent memory. With a vast discography that has covered everything from unadulterated funk in 1988's Sine Die (Pegasus) to advanced concepts in 2011's The Mancy of Sound (Pi), his curiosity and influence continue to expand.
Coleman reenlists the kinetic rhythm-section of Anthony Tidd (electric bass) and Sean Rickman (drums) who appeared on The Sonic Language of Myth ((RCA Victor, 1999). The two provide a groove center throughout the set as Coleman and young trumpet star Jonathan Finlayson provide the leads and tight vamps in the funky opener "Sinews" and the fragmented cooker "Snap-sis." Add to the mix guitarist Miles Okazaki, who's proven to be another intrepid artist as he adds color and texture in the intriguing Henry Threadgill-esque contrapuntalism on "Lymph Swag (Dance of the Leukocytes)."
Like other perceptive bandleaders, the caliber of these younger musicians speaks of Coleman's listening abilities. Tidd's electric bass is supple yet pronounced with nuanced punctuations and Rickman's multicolored traps dance with accuracy and nuance. The connection between Coleman and Finlayson is superb, the saxophone's alto countering and engaging the young trumpeter's lyricism. Coleman's heady compositions have, at times, diminished the fact that he's an excellent saxophonist, as evinced in "Cerebellum Lean"'s swaying groove or the tender balladry in "Respiratory Flow."
The intriguing title refers "to the irrational rhythms found in healthy human heartbeat patterns and many of its compositions utilize the heartbeat pulse," with Coleman crediting drummer/percussionist Milford Graves for providing inspiration for his pioneering research on the subject matter. At the end of the day, though, it is about the music, and this release provides stimulation for both the mind and body.
Track Listing: Sinews; Medulla-Vagus; Chemical Intuition; Cerebrum Crossover; Limbic Cry;
Cardiovascular; Respiratory Flow; Irregular Heartbeats; Cerebellum Lean; Lymph Swag
(Dance of the Leukocytes); Adrenal, Got Ghost; Assim-Elim; Hormone Trig; Snap-sis.
Personnel: Steve Coleman: alto saxophone; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Anthony Tidd: electric
bass; Sean Rickman: drums; Miles Okazaki: guitar (2, 6, 8, 10, 11).
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.