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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Functional Arrhythmias

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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 ...

INTERVIEWS

Steve Coleman: Symbols and Language

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Saxophonist Steve Coleman's The Mancy of Sound (Pi Recordings, 2011) was one of the records of 2011. Thematically and structurally challenging on the one hand, dynamic and funky on the other, the music's contrasts reflect Coleman's view of the world, in all its complexity and simplicity. Coleman's fierce intellect carries simple logic, wrapped in many-layered waves of knowledge; so, too, the music on this recording may seem overwhelming at first, until repeated listening gradually unveils the simple truths within. For Coleman, it's all a matter of communication with his fellow musicians, where the notes played are the symbols of a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Mancy of Sound

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Although alto saxophonist Steve Coleman's conceptual approach to composition has grown increasingly adventurous, high-brow or esoteric, depending on your viewpoint--with lunar phases and the Yoruba of West Africa's philosophical system providing inspiration here--The Mancy of Sound merely represents Coleman's relationship to the world, which is the font of most music of worth. Retaining the same musicians from Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings, 2010), Coleman's Five Elements follow-up shares its broad stylistic features, including non-western rhythms and multiple, interweaving voices, though it differs in the increased rhythmic energy and slightly sweeter aesthetic. The two-pronged drums of Tyshawn ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Mancy of Sound

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A saxophonist of a different order--part griot, theorist, numerologist, and incessant seeker of knowledge-- Steve Coleman continues to forge new paths in creative music. He's influenced more of today's forward thinking artists than almost anyone in recent memory with his proven M-Base concepts. His critically acclaimed 2010 recording, Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings), was a welcome return to the spotlight, and the follow-up, The Mancy of Sound , is even more rewarding. To explain Coleman's music is no small feat, of which the eight exhaustive compositions include interwoven syncopations, studies in astral concepts, labyrinthine counterpoint, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Harvesting Semblances and Affinities

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Celebrated and highly influential alto saxophonist Steve Coleman reenters the progressive jazz context with his cutting-edge Five Elements band. A purveyor of M-Base processes, which are centered upon a synchronous balance between structure and improvisation, Coleman's odd-metered metrics revert to kaleidoscopic sentiment on “Clouds."Trombonist Tim Albright launches the track with warmly stated choruses, underscored by Thomas Morgan's bulging bass lines and Jen Shyu's instrumental-like vocalizations. Slightly intensified by Coleman's darting sax lines and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson's contrasting statements, the ensemble's lucid imagery often mimics crisscrossing cloud movements. Moreover, the polytonal voicings provide the groundwork for shades of grey ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Harvesting Semblances and Affinities

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As the founder of the M-Base movement, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman has been at the forefront of advances in jazz composition for 25 years. Culled from traditions with roots in the diverse music of the African Diaspora, M-Base's intricate fusion of syncopated rhythms and polyphonic harmonies has provided a vivacious, forward-thinking alternative to staid conventions for over two decades.

A veteran scene leader and mentor, Coleman has aided the careers of peers like Geri Allen, Greg Osby and Cassandra Wilson, as well as nurturing the development of such heavyweight modernists as Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman: Invisible Paths: First Scattering

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To admire the music of saxophonist Steve Coleman is, indeed to admire the man. From his origins as a Chicago musician to his current life full of exploration of philosophy, musicology, symbols, and language, he has kept a directness and lucidity about his musical presentation.

Invisible Paths: First Scattering is his first solo session, coming twenty-some years after he co-founded the M-Base collective that included (among many others) Greg Osby, Ravi Coltrane, Robin Eubanks, and Jean-Paul Bourelly. He did record a hard-to-find duo once with bassist Dave Holland in 1991, Phase-Space (DIW, 1994.

Like the duo, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Weaving Symbolics

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Philosopher, conceptualist, theoretician and supremely original alto saxophonist Steve Coleman has issued more than twenty albums over the last twenty years under his own name, all of which helped perpetuate his notion of the M-Base (macro-basic array of spontaneous extemporization) collective. Less a musicians' club than a way of thinking about music creation, Coleman and his band employ M-Base to combine structure with improvisation on Weaving Symbolics and deliver music that fuses funk, soul, world beat and jazz. The song titles betray a New Age sensibility, but the music is complex yet accessible, and presented with passion ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Lucidarium

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Steve Coleman's latest tablet from the mountain top finds him back with a large group performing even larger conceptual compositions, augmented by voices and rappers. Besides group improvisations, Coleman also abandons pitch in places and continues to work within signature structures and rhythms. Gathering a stellar group of musicians while obsessively pushing himself and everyone else past imagined limits creates a uniquely inspired program of music fraught with meaning and melody.

His bright, warm alto sparks a brief quartet with violaist Mat Maneri, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, and trombonist Dana Leong on “Ten Steppin (Door to the Sixty). When the band ...

Steve Coleman: Elements Of One

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Steve Coleman Elements Of One Chod 2005

This 90 minute documentary by Eve-Marie Breglia about the saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman sets a benchmark for just how intellectually engaging a film portrait of a jazz musician can be. The film records a six year odyssey highlighting Coleman's career in the 1990s, concentrating on his travels in Cuba, Senegal, India, Egypt, France, and The U.S.

But before the musical travels commence, Breglia concentrates on Coleman's hometown roots, revealing his musical affinities with Chicago's free-thinking saxman Von Freeman, nearly four decades Coleman's elder. Their conversations and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Steve Coleman: Lucidarium

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Steve Coleman Lucidarium Label Bleu 2004

Jazz Composer and Performer as Philosopher...

These thoughts were triggered by the impossibility for me of reviewing the notable new album Lucidarium by Steve Coleman and his band, the Five Elements. Normally, someone who has spent over twenty years reviewing jazz albums would not make a big fuss in print about the inability to write an album review. In this instance, the feeling of being inadequate to the task of an album review is instructive and stimulating, not merely an admission of personal incompetence. Lucidarium is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Sonic Language of Myth

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The '90s have kept alto saxophonist Steve Coleman busy. Among his many projects, the Five Elements group represents some of his most coherent music. As opposed to groups like the Mystic Rhythm Society, his Five Elements group has always maintained a funkier edge and a deeper groove.The idea of the material on The Sonic Language of Myth, as Coleman articulates it, relates to symbolic representation of experience and such abstract concepts as resistance, renewal, and resurrection. As this connects with the average listener, all the mumbo-jumbo may not be immediately apparent--but the lay observer will certainly note that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman: The Sonic Language of Myth

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A lot of sound and fury here. Signifying what? Well, according to RCA Victor’s publicity department, The Sonic Language of Myth is “a philosophical journey in sound. Incorporating ancient philosophical, astrological and musical precepts into his compositional foundation, Steve Coleman presents his way of hearing and experiencing music.” And since these precepts are so ancient, who’s going to argue with him? Not I. I’m far more interested in the music itself. Is it Jazz? More or less. Does it swing? Sometimes. At the very least, one has to give Coleman credit for doing it his way, whether or not he ...



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