Gigs, dance, art

November 9th, 2009: Steve Coleman & Five Elements

@new morning

I enjoyed this shew, but I had higher expectations.It’s a fine line, and I put that squarely on the drummer  Don’t get me wrong, Marcus Guilmore  is a good one, but I like Tyshawn Sorey so much that going back to the regular drummer alone made the show less than what I hoped.  On the one hand, there was Jen Shyu‘s voice — when will I get the chance to hear her doing her own thing? — and Steve Coleman‘s great leadership, on the other hand this was a regular jazz show and having experienced their ability to get way beyond that, that was  a bit of a disappointment. Just a bit, because these regular shows are also a way to look as what the baseline is, even though I think my favorite thing about Coleman is his ability to integrate other elements — pun intended — into his music, Opus Akoben going even further in that I think their common performances brought both bands beyond what they could do on their own. Here it was Coleman and Five Elements only, so I didn’t expect that much. But still, I expected more, which was bad news for me, another trip into the hell of high expectations.

It’s all about expectations, because they played for close to to three hours, and most of it was very good. But this one poorly compared to previous performances. It went closer to regular jazz, first, and I’m probably not that sensitive to this part of their music. Then there’s the Gilmore/Sorey thing, that’s really a matter of taste, I don’t think it can be debated — again, Guilmore is good, but his style is different from Sorey’s, especially when it comes to the relative use of cymbals, and I happen to like Sorey better.

Coleman played a lot in my opinion, but still left a lot of place for the others, a trait which makes him my favorite jazz leader. He’s so good at this I wish he would do workshops on that part alone; how to be in charge through getting everyone to be highlighted in turn; how to be confident enough to make a statement then walk aside, or not, depending on what the music calls for. I do think he was more assertive than in previous shows, but that’s just another way of saying I think the band didn’t come together as well. I don’t know why, but I felt unity was lacking, in that there was Shyu and Coleman, Finlayson and Albright, then Morgan and Guilmore. Those sub-units worked very well, but I felt communication wasn’t that smooth between them. That’s my number one gripe, because I’d been so totally impressed to far with Coleman’s performance as a leader — second to Bill Belichick, but he has had his share of misses as well.

On a totally personal take, I’d say I wish there had been less Guilmore soloing and more Jen Shyu. Then again, that was another not exactly subtle plea for a Jen Shyu performance around here. I really want to hear her on her own, with her own call on where she wants to take her voice.


November 14, 2009 - Posted by | Music | ,

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