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October 1998

Steve Coleman feat. The Council of Balance & 5 Elements
Genesis & The Opening of the Way
RCAVictor

Steve Coleman has found his groove, literally and figuratively. This brilliant double set opus is a culmination of Coleman's recent streak of flat-out dope recordings.

The first disc, with its reference to the Biblical myth of creation, is tailor-made for Coleman's distinctively communal approach, where ideas and motifs generate, gestate, and then combust into multi-faceted organisms. At his best Coleman's work sounds less like set conversations than conversations on conversations, the sound of a multi-directional signifying session.

On the first disc, this approach gets a full big band treatment, his melding of orchestral dissonance and overlapping polyrhythms sounding like Chano Pozo gone Schoenberg (and/or vice versa). Compositions like "Day One" unfold like a sleeping giant, others like "Day Four" and the disc-closing "Awareness" are more elastic and moody. While the 30-piece big band Council of Balance (which features familiar collaborators Greg Osby, Andy Milne, and Ravi Coltrane, accented by strings and percussion), brings Coleman the composer to the fore, the second disc features him in a more familiar setting, one which features some of his strongest blowing on record. Ditto for guitarist David Gilmore (check him out on "Pi") and keyboardist Andy Milne.

Originally published in October 1998
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