Def Trance Beat (Modalities of Rhythm)
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Steve Coleman ~ Def Trance Beat
Top Customer Reviews
why ? well far too many tracks for me just follow a tried + tested similar tempo with Coleman leading proceedings with very similar sounding format, his alto sax lines have little genuine variety or interplay amongst the band. a strong melody ? apart from a couple of tracks - no. a introspective moment ? forget it. genuine startling new music ? forget it. its a little like sophisticated yet still soul-less lift music for hip urbanites.
for me - Coleman + crew do what they do very proficiently here, but just don't expect the depth , variety or originality of later era Miles, Ornette or uk player Denys Baptiste. [...] i will persevere with Coleman and try to hear his later releases in due course where i hope greater variety and experimentation reside. ok but hardly earth shattering contemporary jazz. funky, urbane, inventive yes - earth shattering, startling, clasic ? no. enjoyable intelligent urban jazz funk but i expect more from my music. 3 stars going on 4.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In writing liner notes or commenting on his music in interviews, Coleman was starting to get very mystical around this time, claiming that his playing was connected to supernatural energies, unconventional cosmologies, and eldrich traditions. He had become closely linked with an astrologer, Thomas Goodwin, who claims to know the secrets of Ancient Egypt. While I think that's all flim-flam and nonsense, there's no doubt that Coleman's expanded perspective has greatly enriched his music. (In this Coleman can be compared to Per Nørgård, of whom we are both great fans, a Danish composer who took astrology and Carlos Castaneda and turned these lame inspirations into incredible music.) Ignore all his astrological woo-woo and just marvel at the intricately interlocking parts and the perfect, yet spontaneously composed, order of his music.
The album opens with "Flint", which preserves the Jerry Goldsmith film tune melodically, but sets it within a stunning rhythmic vortex. This is the first Coleman record where drummer Gene Lake gets to really shine. "Verifiable Pedagogy" is a calmer, more traditional tune, and "Salt Peanuts" is the well-known standard. "Jeannie's Sizzling" combines a Cannonball Adderley tune with Five Elements' own "Fire Revisited" (previously heard on the album On the Edge of Tomorrow while Coleman was still finding his way). "The Mantra" has a fun opening, where the musicians first chant the beat before beginning to elaborate on it, and Reggie Washington's baseline there is one of his sleekest.
I'm very impressed by the artistry and the richness of these tunes, and I'd recommend DEF TRANCE BEAT. However, this doesn't rank among Coleman's very best for a couple of reasons. One is the Andy Milne was a bad match for Coleman's innovative stylings, and whenever he solos I feel like he's moving the music back into conventional 1950s/60s bop territory. Furthermore, Milne's composition "Patterns of Force" is a limp moment here, though Coleman's solo saves it a bit. Also, Coleman cuts off a track suddenly, an edit he had done many times before, but which I feel is somewhat dishonest: you can't judge a composition and performance if you can't hear it through to the end.
Still, I discovered Coleman's music through his visionary later albums, and in going back to explore his output chronologically I find the earliest releases problematic, with DEF TRANCE BEAT I feel like we've come to the good stuff.