Sunday, March 31, 2013

Steve Coleman and Five Elements - Functional Arrhythmias (Pi-Recordings, 2013)

Alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman takes a wide range of inspiration for the musical paths he forges. Previously astrology and aspects of computers have provided the impetus for his music, and this time the rhythms of the body provide the basis for his compositions. Coleman is accompanied by Sean Rickman on drums, Anthony Tidd on bass, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet and Miles Okazaki on guitar. The music is quite involved and complicated throughout the record, but the music remains accessible. The opening track "Sinews" demonstrates this as Tidd develops an excellent funk tinged bass line, making an solid pivot point for the music to revolve around. Coleman has a great deal of trust in his colleagues, and he will start to sketch a performance with a small notion of music, and then allow the other musicians to extrapolate on his brief motif, taking the performance into different areas and keeping everything fresh. Clip-clopping drum rhythm and swirling saxophone open "Cerebrum Crossover" and while the bass and drum provide an excellent foundation, Coleman is able to explore at will over the top. Eventually trumpet comes into the picture but the "crossover" happens when the bass/drums unit meets the saxophone/trumpet unit and the music really comes together like twin lobes of one musical brain. "Cardiovascular" is a throbbing, rumbling piece for bass, drums, saxophone and trumpet. There are a few brief solos, but Rickman's insistent drumming is the key. Many of the songs are of a brief duration, hitting hard and getting out fast. Coleman has a strong pointed approach to his music and saxophone playing which enables him to make brief statements that can be quite powerful. Powerful driving rhythms based on the ebbs and flows of the human body make for an in interesting pool of ideas to draw on. Drawing inspiration from all aspects of nature and humanity, Colman's music remains exploratory and fresh. Functional Arrhythmias -

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