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Guy Berger

Steve Coleman Corner

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I'm not that familiar with Coleman except for his Sonic Language of Myth album and a few recordings with Dave Holland. However, I like everything I've heard. Any recommendations?

Guy

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http://www.m-base.com/

resistance.jpg

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The earlier M-Base recordings show a concept being developed, and are opften more fun to think about than to listen to. These later ones show the concept fully matured and internalized, and they're powerful, provocative music.

When I talk about the relative handful of "jazz musicians" making relevant music of the now, Steve Coleman is definitely included.

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Thinking about Steve Coleman again after many moons and searched out this recent thread...

I have not bought into any of his more recent pieces and the last was probably the "Tao Of Mad Phat". He lost me when those expensive French concerts began to appear in only limited editions.

Went to the M-Base website and discovered that many of his tunes are there for free downlaods , a nice sampling for those in need.

so ya'll check it out now : "Hey, Jim!"

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I've drifted away from Steve's work over the last few years (like since about 2000/2001). But I've owned lots of it for going on 15+ years, and there's a funny thing about me and Steve Coleman albums. They really wear me out quickly. I usually put his dates on and rarely get more than two or three or four tunes into them before I decide to put something else on.

Another interesting observation -- I do better with my half-dozen Dave Holland albums that feature Coleman as a sideman -- I usually get through them all the way. I think that's some of Steve's finest work.

I think the best jazz is about tension and release. And I think Steve's music often (or at least as I recall) has way more tension (and for much longer periods of time), than release.

It's fantastic music, but I'm always mentally drained halfway though his leader-dates.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I really like "On the Rising of the 64 Paths".

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You said it well.

Back in them funk days with Cassandra Wilson and Geri Allen I ate it all up just because it was so "new". And seeing him live was nearly trance-like but maybe other factors played in that experience.

I think his sinewy blowing might parallel the likes of John Lurie in a way that might grate at ya when the redundafunk steps in (but hey whadabout all them Grant Green "tensions") and granted Coleman shows more outright chops maybe and a freer association with new jazz than "fake" jazz but I do agree that I too can only take him now in bits. Maybe listening to Coleman might be more about giving in to "his" sound and grooving into what the rest of the band is all about.

And maybe Jim can set us all straight, please! ;)

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And maybe Jim can set us all straight, please! ;)

I doubt it. :g

Hey - "tension" & "release" are all relative to what the each individual perceives/feels/can handle/etc. Ain't nuthin' I can (or should try to) do about individual percpetions of life's forces.

All I can say is that I'm fairly certain that a lot of the music of the 1960s that grooves us today was really intense in its own time, much moreso than we perceive it today, decades after the fact of the music and the facts of the various "tensions" that fueled it.

If we today in 2006 think that Trane at the Half Note is intense-on-the-edge-of-your-seat listening (and it definitely is), imagine how much moreso it was in 1065. Same for Miles @ Plugged Nickel, or anything like that. I think it's a not unreasonable question for any of us to ask of ourself if we could have handled that stuff then, in it's moment.

That may or may not be relative to how we do or not not respond to an intense music of today such as Steve Coleman's, there's other factors at play besides it's sheer intensity, but I still think it's a question we owe it to ourself to ask. There's still an undeniable danger in the older music, but there's also an undeniable safety in it as well. We kid ourselves if we think otherwise.

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Incidentally Coleman's playing the Guelph festival this September. Haven't seen him play since Victoriaville in the mid-1990s (where it was mostly about the rappers, a bit disappointing, aside from a grooved-up "Star Eyes" riff at the end), so looking forward to checking him out again.

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Were the rappers not good, or do you just not like rappers?

I ask because I've heard some SC stuff w/rappers that totally kills me, and some that leaves me cold.

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I don't have any problem with rappers, but they just went on and on and on and on..... and meanwhile one barely got a taste of Coleman & the trumpeter (never caught the name--would it have been Alessi?).

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I used to book Steve in the early 90's. It was happening music, but things change and Steve, at least to me, got caught up in the European audience kissing his ass and kinda stopped.

And then the Gary Thomas beating as well as Greg Osby's rise and overshadowing of Steve seems to have put him in the past tense.

He's gotta do what he has to, but I would have thought that he would have been the one to use samplers etc. instead of staying with the same thing he's been doing for the past 20 years.

Best of luck to him.

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Coleman has a bunch of MP3s (out of print albums, etc) on his webpage.

link

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I used to book Steve in the early 90's. It was happening music, but things change and Steve, at least to me, got caught up in the European audience kissing his ass and kinda stopped.

And then the Gary Thomas beating as well as Greg Osby's rise and overshadowing of Steve seems to have put him in the past tense.

He's gotta do what he has to, but I would have thought that he would have been the one to use samplers etc. instead of staying with the same thing he's been doing for the past 20 years.

Best of luck to him.

And then the Gary Thomas beating?? Some backstory here (about Gary) that I'm not aware of??

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Any opinions on the SC album "Invisible Paths: First Scattering" (Tzadik)? I like SC a lot and was considering picking it up, but am kind of wary of a solo saxophone album by him.

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Any opinions on the SC album "Invisible Paths: First Scattering" (Tzadik)? I like SC a lot and was considering picking it up, but am kind of wary of a solo saxophone album by him.

I really like it. I have a soft spot for solo sax albums for a few reasons, one of which is that i simply find them to be great background music. There's a relaxed intimacy about them; i love having a solo saxophone album playing while i pot around the house from one room to another. Almost feels like the artist is chilling in one of the rooms of your house. In particular with this Steve Coleman album i'd always loved his playing but found the production on his eighties and nineties albums to be really off putting. An album with him unaccompanied really laid his playing bare. I'm not sure what it is but his playing really speaks to me so i found this album to be really engaging. I also really dug what i'd heard of him on his albums unaccompanied (for example track one of Weaving Symbolics) and thought "yeah i could dig a whole albums of this". That's pretty much what you get.

This thread made for interesting reading. Just like with any artist YMMV but you can't really judge recent Steve Coleman by his eighties or nineties stuff. Sometimes i feel like Steve Coleman's career is on the reverse trajectory of Miles'. Judging current Steve on albums like Tao of the Mad Phat would be like judging Miles purely on Tutu. In Marcus Gilmore he found a drummer that could be funky without being stuck on a grid. Jen Shyu's vocals will be a deal breaker for some, but for me her voice adds a wonderful surreal edge and some amazing colours (i also really dig Irene Aebi's vocals, so... )

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Of the earlier albums, I like Sine Die, and the tad more traditional Rhythm In Mind. I don't know which Dave Holland albums you've heard, but everything with Coleman is worth picking up.

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Like I said back in '06 (earlier in this thread), I really think I prefer my Steve Coleman with Dave Holland (but I understand they had some kind of falling out, iirc).

That said, the Coleman/Holland duo album on DIW (iirc) is fantastic. All the energy of a full quintet album, and a number of times I've thought it sounded like two tracks were pulled out of the multi-track for an album by a much larger group.

But really any of Holland's leader dates with Coleman are the bee's knees.

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The new one - Functional Arrhythmias is the one you need currently IMO.

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The new one - Functional Arrhythmias is the one you need currently IMO.

It's a solid album, a solid recommendation. For me, over the last few releases Jen Shyu's vocals and Marcus Gilmore's drumming have been two key components... they've loomed large for me so their absence makes Functional Arrhythmias feel, as much as i like it, like a bit of a transitional record, the start of a new phase. Not that that's necessarilly a bad thing and it may just be some classic projecting on my part... I guess for me it's just a less exciting album than the earlier albums on Pi... more refined but more dry... any thoughts?

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The new one - Functional Arrhythmias is the one you need currently IMO.

It's a solid album, a solid recommendation. For me, over the last few releases Jen Shyu's vocals and Marcus Gilmore's drumming have been two key components... they've loomed large for me so their absence makes Functional Arrhythmias feel, as much as i like it, like a bit of a transitional record, the start of a new phase. Not that that's necessarilly a bad thing and it may just be some classic projecting on my part... I guess for me it's just a less exciting album than the earlier albums on Pi... more refined but more dry... any thoughts?

I'm not a fan of the vocals you mention. Just me. Sorry. So this new one works better for me.

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No worries; i don't doubt that a lot of people will be getting back on board with Coleman via Functional Arrhythmias. It's an excellent album.

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I've only heard it once, and to me it sounded lifeless and a retread of his earlier stuff

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I've only heard it once, and to me it sounded lifeless and a retread of his earlier stuff

Yikes!!

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The new one - Functional Arrhythmias is the one you need currently IMO.

It's a solid album, a solid recommendation. For me, over the last few releases Jen Shyu's vocals and Marcus Gilmore's drumming have been two key components... they've loomed large for me so their absence makes Functional Arrhythmias feel, as much as i like it, like a bit of a transitional record, the start of a new phase. Not that that's necessarilly a bad thing and it may just be some classic projecting on my part... I guess for me it's just a less exciting album than the earlier albums on Pi... more refined but more dry... any thoughts?

I'm still buying every Coleman album as they come out and I'm with Xybert on this. I've really enjoyed the preceding Coleman releases to Functional Arrythmias as I heard a greater depth to the overall sound. As someone not usually keen on vocals I've really taken to Shyu's vocals. I've found that I've been a bit underwhelmed by FA and its strpped back sound. Coleman and Finlayson still doing it for me but Tidd and Rickman's return just seems to me to take the music back some years. I still enjoy it as a Steve Coleman album but miss the breadth of sound on the 2007/8 sessions on Pi.

I hope he chooses to record and release something by his Reflex Trio with Virelles and Gilmore which was dynamite live

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