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IN PICTURES
CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)

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Do you long for the days when jazz was punk? Not meaning music that is loud and out-of-control. but punk as in innovative, nonconformist, and seditious. One hundred years ago, the music of Louis Armstrong was punk, and a few decades later so was Charlie Parker's revolutionary bebop. You probably did not witness those rebellions, nor Ornette Coleman's free jazz of the 1960s. What would you give to be there for the “what-did-I-just-hear" moment? Steve Coleman and Five ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)

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Artists don't release Live at the Village Vanguard recordings unless they've truly got something to say. The list of recordings from that fabled venue, run for decades by the incomparable Max and Lorraine Gordon, is indeed long and legendary, with well over 100 titles to date, including some of the most iconic recordings in jazz history. John Coltrane's sets from 1961 might be at the very top of the pile, but those by Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins would certainly ...

IN PICTURES

Jazz & Wine of Peace Festival 2017

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Jazz & Wine of Peace in Collio Friulano celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. The region is known for producing some of Italy's best white wines and is home to some wonderful abbeys and prestigious wine cellars. The festival also celebrates jazz as well as photography, illustrations, cinema, and more. 2017 saw 30 concerts over six days with many side events including Flavio Massarutto's writings, Luca A. d'Agostino's photographs, and Massimiliano Gosparini's illustrations. The music portion included Steve Coleman and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman: Morphogenesis

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Steve Coleman's music has long sounded largely removed from the direct influence of his native Southside Chicago, not because those elements are missing, but because he creates a hybrid universe that owes as much to Africa and Europe, and to folk, funk, classical and jazz. His newest release, Morphogenesis, while furthering Coleman's musical development, displays features that were present as far back as his Drop Kick (BMG, 1995) and up to Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings, 2010); the stripped ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis

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After his 2015 masterpiece, Synovial Joints, alto saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman left his listeners wondering how he could try to top that extraordinary project. With 21 musicians and an ambitious melding of classical and jazz instrumentation with intricate compositional decisions, Coleman used that record to reveal yet another dimension of his constantly-evolving musical concept--one that's been changing shape for over thirty years now. In some ways, Morphogenesis continues that project: although this is a smaller nine-piece ensemble, almost all of these ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Steve Coleman and Five Elements at Albright-Knox Art Gallery

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Steve Coleman and Five Elements Albright-Knox Art Gallery Art of Jazz Buffalo, NY October 29, 2016 If Steve Coleman's set at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery proved anything, it's that residencies are still a beneficial means to cultivating unrivaled virtuosity within a band. In the case of composer, alto saxophonist, and bandleader Steve Coleman and his band Five Elements, a recent 11-day run of shows and workshops at Detroit's Carr Center allowed for ...

BEST OF / YEAR END

Jeff Dayton-Johnson's 2015 Mixtape

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The narrator of Jean-Jacques Schuhl's 2002 novel Ingrid Caven muses, “I like the connection, the splice, not the things themselves; what's between them, their rapport. Two ideas, images, the bridge between two harmonies for the jazz musician..." It's an interesting esthetic statement regarding jazz: that part of the music's appeal lies not in its components, but in its power to make connections among those components. A heady and appropriate benediction for this list of 2015 records that I listened to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance: Synovial Joints

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The recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius grant, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman is one of the most innovative contemporary improvisers and composers. Over a career that has spanned three decades Coleman has restlessly explored unique and ingenious ways of spontaneous expression and artistic conceptualization. On Synovial Joints Coleman leads his large ensemble The Counsel of Balance on a provocative and intricately constructed series of interconnected pieces. The harmonically complex and textured music flows seamlessly from one track to ...