Steve Coleman and his cohorts are out to break the stranglehold that the neo-boppers and Fuzak purveyors have over the jazz scene these days. They are doing it with a potent, explosive injection of rhythms from the streets, a controlled sample of which could be heard at Catalina’s this week.
Coleman comes out of the M-Base Collective, a free-floating group of Brooklyn-based musicians which has become ground zero for this rebellion. In the past year, Coleman has gone into overdrive on CDs with “Rhythm in Mind” in April and “Drop Kick” in November for Novus under his own name. February saw the release of yet more Coleman on DIW/Columbia, “Anatomy of a Groove” with the M-Base Collective and “Transmigration” with the Strata Institute.
With the exception of the oddly mainstream “Rhythm,” these CDs find the M-Base sound pretty much set in place — slashing, angular solo lines clashing with complicated drumming rooted in James Brown funk.
Live, Coleman’s Five Elements quintet stretches out much further, making a whole set out of two lengthy run-on workouts.
They launched the ship gingerly on Tuesday, feeling each other and the room out, but it wasn’t long before the groove took hold, soon accelerating into a frantic chase. Coleman is the beacon of the band, his fluid alto saxophone leaping in angles around Gene Lake’s scattershot drum accents with astonishing ease while Reggie Washington’s electric bass kept a sullen rolling undercurrent going. Guitarist David Gilmore looped almost casually through the mix while keyboardist Andy Milne sounded a bit reticent on the house Steinway grand and DX-7 synthesizer.