Composer and alto saxophonist Steve Coleman in a superb modern jazz album, written by applying characteristics of human synovial joints to compositional process, and using "camouflage orchestration" to orchestrate players into the fore-, middle- and background.
Coleman, Steve & the Council of Balance
Label: Pi Recordings
Released in: USA
"2014 was a remarkable year for alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman. Already acclaimed in jazz circles, he won wider recognition as the recipient of three prestigious awards: a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship and Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. This comes at a time when Coleman is at his creative peak, incorporating a lifetime of learning in African diasporic culture, ancient religions, metaphysics, Eastern philosophy and patterns found in nature into his musical methods. His influence among young artists, particularly in his approach to rhythm and his willingness to look beyond music for sources of inspiration, has never been stronger.
Synovial Joints represents the most ambitious project of Coleman's 30-year career as a bandleader. The work was composed for a group he calls the Council of Balance, a name he has used in the past for his large-scale projects, most significantly on his 1998 release Genesis & the Opening of the Way. The new recording features 21 musicians, including many who play in his working band Five Elements: Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Anthony Tidd (electric bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums), and Miles Okazaki (guitar). They are joined by other musicians who are also regularly in Coleman's nexus: Jen Shyu (vocals), David Bryant (piano), Tim Albright (trombone) and Maria Grand (tenor saxophone) who are further augmented by Latin percussionists and musicians from contemporary classical circles on strings, woodwinds, horns and percussion.
Coleman's main objective for Synovial Joints was to investigate two novel compositional ideas: exploring different connective principals to effect musical momentum and flow, and a concept he calls camouflage orchestration. In the first, he analyzed the movement of the various Synovial Joints of the human body, how they pivot, flex and bend, contract and relax and applied those features so that the music flows not just in a linear fashion, but with cyclical spin or rotation. In camouflage orchestration, which is inspired by the sounds that Coleman recorded in the Amazon rainforest, he pays particular attention to how instrument sounds can be distributed so that they are perceived to be in the foreground, middleground and background, much as the layered sounds reveal themselves in the rainforest.
Coleman has increasingly come to rely on spontaneous composition in the creation of his music: It usually starts with him quieting his mind, approaching a near-trance state. He then improvises either on the saxophone and/or singing as he simultaneously beats out rhythms while sensing different memories, moods and images: shapes, appearances, energies, vibrations, movements, etc. The results are recorded and transcribed, and additional layers often also spontaneously composed are added and then orchestrated. The result is a music that he believes comes from a subconscious, less intentional, and perhaps, more sincere place.
The New York Times recently named Coleman one of the most influential figures in the last half-century of improvised music and, in awarding him the so-called Genius Grant, the MacArthur Foundation called him Influential well beyond the scope of saxophone performance and composition, Coleman is redefining the vocabulary and vernaculars of contemporary music. Always looking forward, Synovial Joints is further evidence that Coleman remains at the vanguard of expanding the possibilities for musical expression."-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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NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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Shipping Weight: 2.00 units
Quantity in Basket: None
Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PI 57
Squidco Product Code: 20399
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Systems Two Recording Studios in Brooklyn New York on October 11th, 12th and 13th, 2014 by Joe Marciano and Max Ross.
Steve Coleman-alto saxophone
Maria Grand-tenor saxophone
Ramon Garcia Perez-percussion
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4. Synovial Joints - Part II - ip and Shoulder 3:51
5. Synovial Joints - Part III - Torsa 2:44
6. Synovial Joints - Part IV - Head and Neck 2:38
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