All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

19

Steve Coleman: Live at Village Vanguard Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Decades after he had migrated from Chicago to New York to briefly play in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman took to the Village Vanguard stage that Jones and Lewis had occupied for more than twenty years. Since 2015, Coleman and his Five Elements group have made the club an annual event in their global schedule. Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. I (The Embedded Sets) documents two nights' performances recorded in May 2017.

The Five Elements have been a remarkably stable group for the past fifteen years with trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman having a long history with the leader. Guitarist Miles Okazaki has released five albums as leader or co-leader working with drummer Dan Weiss on four of those albums. Okazaki's Pi Recordings debut, Trickster (2017), featured Tidd on bass and Craig Taborn as well.

Coleman's two previous Pi Recordings releases, Synovial Joints (2015) with Council of Balance, and Morphogenesis (2017) with his Natal Eclipse group, were—in Coleman's M-Base format—extravagantly prepared and exhaustively composed, relying on his cognitive process, and absence of predictable time signatures. Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. I represents a paradigm shift as Coleman focuses on spontaneous composition and free improvisation. Unusual and complex time signatures are still present throughout this two-disc set, though the overall context is shaped in the moment.

"Horda" opens the first set but is revisited mid-way through the second set as well, in the latter case with a bit more of a world music touch. Along with "Djw," the first fifteen minutes of the combined two and one-half hour program grows steadily in intensity. The medley of Bunky Green's "Little Girl I Love You" and "Embedded #1" provide a more expressive respite that continues with the lyrical "idHw." Once the forceful improvisations resume, the quintet doesn't come up for air again until well into the second set where a similar version of "idHw" reappears. Coleman and Finlayson tend to be center stage for much of the collection though Okazaki gets his share of lead time on the quieter pieces.

As with the five numbers mentioned above, Coleman has opted for a significant amount of repetition here with all but two tunes having a second version. While the alternates vary to some extent, this very long collection would have been quite a bit above average were we given access to the best of each piece. That said, Coleman's music is so different from most everything we hear that the multiple listens deliver somewhat deeper insights to the composer's development of works. Moreover, these sparer approaches provide a well-rounded view of an artist with an ear for the street, current and relevant, and without sacrificing cultural references or the bebop fundamentals that Coleman grew up with.

Track Listing: CD 1: Horda; Djw; Little Girl I'll Miss You-Embedded #1; idHw; twf; Figit Time; Nfr, Little Girl I'll Miss You; Change the Guard. CD 2: rmT-Figit Time; Nfr; idHw; Horda; Embedded #1; Djw; rmT-9 to 5.

Personnel: Steve Coleman: alto saxophone; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Miles Okazaki: guitar; Anthony Tidd: bass; Sean Rickman: drums, percussion.

Title: Live at Village Vanguard Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets) | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Doors" CD/LP/Track Review Doors
by John Eyles
Published: April 4, 2018
Read "Happy Fire - New Kind of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Fire - New Kind of Jazz
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "Indaco" CD/LP/Track Review Indaco
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: April 9, 2018
Read "Radio Omnibus" CD/LP/Track Review Radio Omnibus
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 26, 2018
Read "Live In Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Europe
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 3, 2018
Read "This World of Dew" CD/LP/Track Review This World of Dew
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 16, 2018