Brandon Coleman

Resistance

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Recognized most for his keyboard work but also a composer, producer, arranger, and vocoder-armed vocalist, Brandon Coleman is among the flock of jazz-rooted musicians hatched out of Los Angeles during the early 2000s. The musician is connected with virtually all West Coast luminaries of his generation -- Kamasi Washington, Ryan Porter, Miles Mosley, Thundercat, and so on -- and has ventured stylistically afield with Babyface and Anthony Hamilton among those who have sought his talent. Moreover, Coleman is likely the lone link from smooth jazz stalwart Boney James to polyglot experimentalist Flying Lotus, the latter of whom featured him on Until the Quiet Comes and You're Dead!, and issued Resistance on his Brainfeeder label. This is actually Coleman's second album as a leader. His first, Self Taught, received a low-key release in 2011 and a few years later was reissued in Japan. Like it, Resistance enables Coleman to indulge in his affinity for late-'70s/early-'80s electronic funk from a jazz perspective. As a teenager, around the time he started learning to play, his head was spun by Herbie Hancock's vocoder-ized Sunlight, and that work, as well as other openhearted moments of the master's catalog from Man-Child through Lite Me Up, informs the material here. Considering Coleman's rare spotlight, truckload of stockpiled gear (20 instruments, just for himself), and accommodation of fellow instrumentalists and background singers numbering in the dozens (including many L.A. players), Resistance is extraordinarily condensed. The songs average around four minutes in length and contain few instances of outright flash, with Coleman taking only a couple modestly dazzling solos on electric piano. All of them are filled with love and affection, even when born of negativity, distinguished by their sinuous vocal melodies as much as anything else. Most astounding is "Sundae," a lazing, wriggling groove that plays out like a seamless composite of Herbie's "Sun Touch," "Spiraling Prism," and (the Quincy Jones-produced version of) "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" (with radiant N'Dambi in the role of Patti Austin). Yet Herbie isn't the lone inspiration. The same-era touch of George Duke is felt throughout "Just Reach for the Stars." The one-two punch of "Addiction" and "Sexy" bounces, backstrokes, and pop locks like a funk caucus run by Fatback, Zapp, and Ronnie Hudson. Patrice Rushen and Bernie Worrell are elsewhere in the mix, too. Coleman absorbs and converts all the energy into something else: a joyous act of opposition to unacknowledged tyranny.

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