Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance - Synovial Joints (Pi Recordings, 2015)

Alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman’s most recent project takes it’s inspiration from the rhythms of the body’s limbs, how they move and support one and other, and how this can be applied to music. He uses a wide palate of colors for this project, from a traditional jazz group setting through the addition of voice, strings and Latin percussion. The core group is Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Anthony Tidd on electric bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums, Miles Okazaki on guitar and Jen Shyu on vocals. The choppy melody of “Acupuncture Openings” allows Coleman to solo over string and horns riffing in the background, while “Celtic Cells” slows the pace and brings strings and wordless vocals to the forefront. The four-part “Synovial Joints” suite takes up most of the middle of the album and it works very well, developing themes that the musicians as a whole are able to explore and solo on motifs that come up within the different parts of the suite. There is a sense of quiet jubilation in their playing, and it is clear that the musicians are really enjoying themselves. There is a Latin feel on “Harmattan” where extra percussion added which gives the music a propulsive rhythm. Coleman develops a nice bebop based solo that works very well. His saxophone is a little more muted than it’s usual citrus acidity, but it suits the music quite well. The extra percussion also underpins the funky “Moadic” where the horns provide a nice groove for the drums and bass to lock into. This album really grows on you, after listening a few times you get attuned to what is going on and appreciate the subtleties and diversity of the music, and realize that it is a very good album. Synovial Joints - Pi Recordings

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