Friday, January 20, 2006

Steve Coleman - Lucidarium (Label Blue, 2004)

Alto saxophonist, composer and M-Base leader Steve Coleman's latest album is a complex mix of instrumentation, composition and improvisation. "Playgal Transitions" has a wild mix of saxophone, harmonica, singers and rappers performing an intoxicating mix. The music can seem a little dry at times, but the singer has a very operatic voice and uses her talent to give wordless vocal accompaniment to the music, which lends the proceedings a very spooky air. "Meditations on Cardinal 137" has a collective improvisation of trumpet, alto saxophone, bass and drums forming a complex mix of music.

"Kabbalah" features extra percussion, and about three minutes into the performance, it locks into an exciting up-tempo improvisation with alto sax and trumpet in the front line, then the harmonica player and rapper start to chime in and things really take off and get interesting. "Beyond All We Know" has a spacier, more explorational groove with yearning wordless vocals and clarion trumpet. "Egypt To Crypts In Hieroglyphs" Has a blasting rap section over background vocals and deep groove percussion. Not everything in this dense, experimental album works, but Coleman deserves credit for never standing still and always being open to experiment with new ideas.

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