Alto saxophonist Steve Coleman takes his long-standing M-Base band Five Elements ongoing study into patterns found in nature in an album of music reflecting the irrational rhythms found in healthy human heartbeat patterns.
Coleman, Steve & Five Elements
Label: Pi Recordings
Released in: USA
"Pi Recordings is pleased to announce our first release of 2013, Steve Coleman & Five Elements Functional Arrhythmias. Functional Arrhythmias is the latest and most ambitious chapter in alto saxophonist Steve Coleman's ongoing study into patterns found in nature - in this case the various rhythms found inside the human body - and using them as the building blocks for his highly individual musical language. The new CD follows on the critically acclaimed Harvesting Semblances and Affinities and The Mancy of Sound, both released on Pi Recordings. To help realize his latest musical vision, Coleman has revamped his band Five Elements by reenlisting two veterans: Sean Rickman on drums and Anthony Tidd on bass. Together with long-time member Jonathan Finlayson - one of the most acclaimed young trumpeters on the jazz scene - and guitarist Miles Okazaki, they possess the combination of intuition and experience to capture Coleman's music in all its labyrinthine beauty.
The title of the album refers to the irrational rhythms found in healthy human heartbeat patterns and many of its compositions utilize the heartbeat pulse (ternary or triple pattern). Coleman has long been fascinated with time-related themes, and Functional Arrhythmias is his attempt at creating a musical analogy of the rhythmic interaction between the circulatory, nervous, respiratory, and other biological systems of the human body. He also examines the effect of sensory stimuli on these relationships, and reflects them in the music. He credits the master percussionist and polymath Milford Graves -- whose pioneering research into heart sounds and rhythms point to the connection between the human soul, biology and music -- for providing the inspiration for his explorations.
Coleman employs an unusual process in creating these compositions: It usually starts with him improvising alone - playing the saxophone and/or singing as he simultaneously beats out rhythms - while visualizing some of the physical principles (shape, appearance, energy, vibration, movement, effect, etc.) of biological functions. These spontaneous sketches are then transcribed and other improvised sections overlaid to arrive at the final composition. The resulting layers of melodic and rhythmic counterpoint exhibit all the hallmarks of Coleman's best work.
Five Elements, Coleman's band since 1981, continues to be his primary vehicle for the expression of his music. This version of the band is notable for the return of Anthony Tidd on electric bass and Sean Rickman on drums, both of who first played with the band over 15 years ago. They bring a thorough understanding of Coleman's systems and a muscular sense of groove to the music, but are at the same time flexible enough to navigate the complex rhythmic twists and turns that are characteristic of this music. The rest of the band is comprised of Jonathan Finlayson, who has been a member of Five Elements since 2000 when he was still a teenager, and Miles Okazaki, a relative newcomer who has released three well-received albums of his own as a leader. Finlayson, who is one of the most sought after trumpeters for his musicality and ability to tackle cutting-edge musical concepts, has appeared on an astonishing three New York Times #1 albums of the year in the last four years, including Coleman's Harvesting Semblances and Affinities, Steve Lehman's Travail, Transformation, and Flow, and David Virelles's Continuum. He is also a member of guitarist Mary Halvorson's quintet and appears on her acclaimed recordings Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. He will release his debut recording as a leader, Moment and the Message on Pi Recordings in May.
For a quarter century Coleman has been known as the key proponent of M-Base, a musical and philosophical movement that incorporates elements from the folkloric music of the African diaspora fused with musical ideas influenced by ancient metaphysical concepts and patterns found in nature. He has conducted extensive research trips to Cuba, Ghana, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Senegal, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Tunisia to collaborate and learn from musicians from different cultures. Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer said in an article in The Wall Street Journal: "It's hard to overstate Steve's influence. He's affected more than one generation, as much as anyone since John Coltrane."
Coleman has often stated his desire "to be able to look at a mountain and literally play the mountain" and "to look at the flight pattern of a bee, the flight pattern of a bird, and play that. Or have that directly influence my music, so almost be able to look at nature as one big gesture." Of his latest endeavor, Coleman says: "All of the activities of the human body are connected in a miraculous fashion, like a giant musical composition that is constantly and spontaneously changing based on interactions with its environment." Functional Arrhythmias is the latest in his fascinating and never-ending quest to express the relationship of mankind to everything else through his music."-Pi Recordings
• Show Bio for Jonathan Finlayson
"Jonathan Finlayson has been recognized by the New York Times as "...an incisive and often surprising trumpeter," who is "...fascinated with composition." Born in 1982 in Berkeley, CA, Finlayson began playing the trumpet at the age of ten in the Oakland public school system. He came under the tutelage of Bay Area legend Robert Porter, a veteran trumpeter from the bebop era who took Finlayson under his wing; he was often seen accompanying Porter on his gigs about town and sitting in on the popular Sunday nights jam session at the Bird Cage. He subsequently attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where he studied with Eddie Henderson, Jimmy Owens and Cecil Bridgewater.
Finlayson is a disciple of the saxophonist/composer/conceptualist Steve Coleman, having joined his band Five Elements in 2000 at the age of 18. He is widely admired for his ability to tackle cutting-edge musical concepts with aplomb. Finlayson has performed and recorded in groups led by Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn, Henry Threadgill and played alongside notables such as Von Freeman, Jason Moran, Dafnis Prieto and Vijay Iyer."-Jonathan Finlayson Website (http://jonathanfinlayson.com/biography.html)
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• Show Bio for Miles Okazaki
"Miles Okazaki is an American musician based in New York City. He is known for his technical command of the guitar, his rhythmic approach to improvisation and composition, and his work in contemporary music theory. Okazaki grew up in Port Townsend, Washington, a small town near the Olympic Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. He got his first classical guitar at age 6, and began playing regular gigs on electric guitar by age 14, after studying for several years at the Centrum Jazz Workshop. He received many awards as a guitarist throughout his early years, and eventually placed 2nd in the Thelonious Monk International Guitar Competition.
Okazaki moved to New York City in 1997 to pursue a career in music and begin writing his own material. His teacher on guitar at this time was Rodney Jones, who recommended him for his first gig, with Stanley Turrentine. Okazaki spent four years on the road with vocalist Jane Monheit, while also writing and rehearsing the music for his first album, Mirror, which was released independently. The album received a "Critics Pick" in the New York Times, calling it "a work of sustained collectivity as well as deep intricacy." He expanded to a septet for his second album, Generations, described by pianist Vijay Iyer "the sonic equivalent of Escher or Borges, but with real emotional heft,". His third album, Figurations, was recorded live with a quartet, and was selected as one of the New York Times top ten albums of 2012, described by Ben Ratliff as "slowly evolving puzzles of brilliant jazz logic." In January of 2016 Okazaki recorded a new album, Trickster, that will be released later this year. Okazaki wrote, produced, and illustrated these albums.
As a sideman, Okazaki works in many areas, ranging from Standard repertoire to experimental music. Recently he has been seen most frequently as the guitarist for Steve Coleman and Five Elements. In the last few years, he has worked with a wide variety of artists including Kenny Barron, Jonathan Finlayson, Amir El Saffar, Adam Rudolph, Dan Weiss, Linda Oh, Darcy James Argue, Jane Monheit, Vijay Iyer, Francois Moutin, Doug Hammond, Carl Allen, Ohad Talmor, Mary Halvorson, John Zorn, Jen Shyu, Mark Giuliana, Patrick Cornelius, Rajna Swaminatham, Matt Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Tony Moreno, Ben Wendel, Donny McCaslin, and many others.
Okazaki currently teaches guitar at the University of Michigan. His first book, Fundamentals of Guitar, was released in 2015. He has also taught at the Banff Institute, The New School, Queens College, The Juilliard School, Amsterdam Conservatory, and many other institutions. Outside of guitar, his past teachers include Anthony Davis (composition), Ganesh Kumar (Carnatic percussion), and Kendall Briggs (counterpoint). His awards and grants include Chamber Music America's "New Works" (2007), Chamber Music America's "French-American Jazz Exchange" (2009), the Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundations Residency Commission (2010), the American Music Center's Composer Assistance Program (2011), the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's US Artists International grant (2012), the Rockefeller Brother's Fund Artist Residency (2012), and the Jazz Gallery Mentorship program (2015). He holds degrees from Harvard University, Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School, and lives in Brooklyn, NY."-Miles Okazaki Website (http://www.milesokazaki.com/biography/)
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Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY on March 8th and 9th, 2012 by Joseph Marciano, Max Ross, and Rich Lamb. Recorded at James L. Dolan Music Recording Studio at NYU Steinhardt School, New York on September 29th and 30th, 2012 by Paul Geluso.
Steve Coleman-alto saxophone
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