Biography
The influence of M-Base founder, composer, and alto saxophonist Steve Coleman cannot be overstated. His technical and compositional virtuosity engages with musical traditions and styles from around the world to expand possibilities for spontaneous composition. Whether performing solo or with Steve Coleman and Five Elements, he delivers performances of original works with rigorous focus and relies on execution and imagination in improvised pieces. His original works weave disciplined rhythmic structures, refined tonal progressions, and overlapping and mixed meters into emotionally expressive, fluid inquiries and statements. Coleman's large catalog updates various musical idioms by infusing them with melodic, rhythmic, and structural components inspired by various African, Asian, and Latin cultures. 1997's The Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture was recorded in Havana with Afrocuba de Matanzas. A polymath, Coleman is also inspired by nature, metaphysics, and science. 2013's Functional Arrhythmias musically mapped the pulsating patterns of the human heart. 2015's Synovial Joints was selected Jazz Album of the Year by the New York Times, while 2017's Morphogenesis topped many critics' year-end lists. 2018 and 2021 saw the release of Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 and 2, marking the end of a 15-year absence from live recording.

Coleman was raised in Chicago. His earliest years were spent playing in R&B and funk bands in emulation of his first hero, Maceo Parker. Coleman had heard all the greats in his hometown, including Von Freeman, who had a profound influence on him. He changed his focus from R&B to jazz precipitating his move to New York. He gigged with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis big band, followed by Sam Rivers' All-Star Orchestra and eventually, Cecil Taylor's big-band project. He began working with other leaders as well, including David Murray, Abbey Lincoln, and Michael Brecker. But Coleman was restless; he began listening to other music, particularly that of West Africa (he later traveled to Ghana to study). His music evolved, and he continued to play side gigs, honing his sound and compositions -- he has a totally original alto tone -- by playing in the street.

Coleman's first band, the Five Elements, would be formed by street cats including Graham Haynes. The band came up with the M-Base concept in 1985 ("macro-basic array of spontaneous extemporization") and signed with the European JMT label. Others in the M-Base crew include Gary Thomas, Geri Allen, Greg Osby, Robin Eubanks, and Cassandra Wilson. Coleman developed complex musical theories about integrating the rhythms of funk, soul, world music, and jazz. He eventually signed with BMG and started three other bands, Mystic Rhythm Society, Metrics, and Council of Balance. He also passed through Dave Holland's innovative trio and quartet. In the 21st century, Coleman has primarily concentrated on his own music as executed by several different bands he leads, though he has shown up occasionally as a sideman, most notably with Roy Hargrove's jazz-funk outfit RH Factor and with trombonist Craig Harris.

In addition to issuing over 20 records under his own name, he is a sought-after producer who has helmed dates for Geri Allen, Cassandra Wilson, Sam Rivers, and Ravi Coltrane. In 2010, he signed to Pi Recordings. His first three albums for the label -- 2010's Harvesting Semblances and Affinities, 2011's The Mancy of Sound, and 2013's Functional Arrhythmias (all with Five Elements) -- were widely acclaimed and preceded his 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (the "genius" grant). Coleman utilized the 21-piece Council of Balance for 2015's Synovial Joints, and followed it two years later with Morphogenesis, which debuted his nonet Natal Eclipse and was selected by the NPR Jazz Critics Poll as one of the year's best albums.

In 2018, Coleman and the Five Elements ended a 15-year respite from live recording with Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol 1: The Embedded Sets, and three years later followed with Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 2 (MDW NTR). ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi




 
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Steve Coleman and Five Elements - Def Trance Beat (Modalities of Rhythm) Full Album
Steve Coleman & Five Elements - Heineken Jazzaldia 2016
Steve Coleman and Five Elements (LIVE)
Steve Coleman and Five Elements
Melodic and Harmonic Paths (excerpt) - Steve Coleman
Wheel Of Nature (The Opening of The Way) - Steve Coleman
Steve Coleman and Five Elements - Viersen, Germany, 2010-09-25 (full concert)
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