Steve Coleman

The Sonic Language of Myth: Believing, Learning, Knowing

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Alto saxophonist Coleman conceives his music as "a symbolic language used to express the nature of the Universe," and it goes much deeper as his extensive liner notes attest. It probes dissonant recesses of space with spiritual and ancient thematic parallels, his rambling, tart saxophone lines placed squarely in the middle of either chaos or orderly settings, both being quite prevalent. The varying instrumentation and connectedness of the seven compositions lends to a suite-like concept. Haunting violins and violas act nearly as synthesizers. Hard blues funk is more prevalent rhythmically, but there are many instances of no-time spaciness. Vocals as on "Maat" and "Seth" are shaman sounding and hymnal. Help on select tracks from saxophonist Craig Handy for "Precessional," vibist Stefon Harris soloing on a processional "The Twelve Powers," and tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane with trombonist Tim Albright and Coleman only for the minimalist ebony framed trio workout "The Gate," show Coleman to be a benevolent leader, time-sharing ideas and concepts. Jason Moran's dramatic piano on three cuts shows his ever-growing prowess. "Seth" and "Ausar" are odes to a dead Pharaoh reincarnated, then resurrected. Polyphonic harmonies and stealth tones dominate the recording from start to finish. There's also some impressive unison playing among front liners. This is yet another bold statement for Coleman. It holds a strangely exotic, alluring beauty that challenged listeners should appreciate and fans will recognize as another step ahead.

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