“When will Five Elements do a ‘Live’ recording?” When indeed – how about now! The Tao of Mad Phat (one of the previous Steve Coleman recordings) was recorded ‘live’ in a recording studio in front of an audience. According to Steve, “that recording (The Tao of Mad Phat) has a small club atmosphere to it, so when I got the opportunity to actually record in a club, I liked the idea a lot.” Public response to ‘The Tao’ prompted the members of the band more eager to record a truly ‘live’ album.
While doing a very important grass roots style tour thru the west coast of the United States in the fall of 1994, Steve met with Jean-Paul Artero, owner of the club Hot Brass club in Paris (Artero happened to be in California at the same time). Jean-Paul had heard about a gig done in New York City earlier that year which featured several of Steve’s groups in a series on the music of Steve Coleman. He approached Steve about doing this kind of thing at the Hot Brass in Paris. Coleman liked the idea so much that he approached BMG/RCA about recording at least some of the music. After a consideration, BMG France, in collaboration with BMG New York, decided to record all of the music that would be played during the band’s 5 nights of performances at Hot Brass. The idea was to release the music on three separate CDs, each one representing one of Coleman’s groups, and also to make the recordings available as a box set.
For this gig Steve chose to work with three of his groups – Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Steve Coleman and Metrics and Steve Coleman and The Mystic Rhythm Society. This last group had never been heard in Europe before these recordings were made. The musicians who contributed to this recording particularly liked the atmosphere at the Hot Brass club. The owners and workers of the club did everything possible to ensure the comfort of the performers and provide a nice atmosphere.
This recording, Curves of Life features Steve Coleman and Five Elements. The group had made eight recordings previously, five of these with BMG, so their identity has been well documented on recordings. But all of these recordings have been studio recordings and this recording captures the spirit of the music in an actual performance before an audience. The title refers to the way the music unfolds organically representing the growth patterns of living organisms. Steve has been in the process of studying this approach of creating music spontaneously for many years and he plans on using it as a basis for the future development of his music.
The band played as they normally would and was not overly concerned about the recording process. Even to the point of letting musicians in the audience sit in and participate in impromptu jams (David Murray’s appearance on this recording was not planned, he just happened to be in Paris playing another gig and dropped by to see Steve perform). When the band plays a gig, they usually play whatever they feel at any given moment. None of the music is planned out ahead of time; the musicians don’t have any idea what they are going to play themselves and in many instances play music that they had never conceived of before the moment of performance.. This meant that the recording engineers had to be alert and prepared for any sound (vocal or instrumental) that might come from the musicians. This situation is not normal but the engineers who recorded these concerts did a great job.
The musicians who participated in these recordings are Five Elements members Steve Coleman (alto saxophone), Andy Milne (piano/keyboards), Reggie Washington (bass), and Gene Lake (drums). The special guest for this project is David Murray (tenor saxophone) on “Country Bama” and “I’m Burnin Up”. Sitting in on “I’m Burnin Up” are lyricists Black Indian, Sub-Zero and Kokayi.
- Multiplicity Of Approaches (The African Way of Knowing) 15:34
- Country Bama 19:12
- The Streets 09:01
- Round Midnight 07:06
- Drop Kick Live 09:40
- The Gypsy 03:46
- I’m Burnin Up (Fire Theme) 13:40
Some tracks are available for download on the download page.
Produced by Steve Coleman
Production Assistant Sophia Wong
Executive Producer Daniel Baumgarten
Project Coordinator Rémi Sommers
Recorded by Alain Cluzeau
Assistant Engineers Christian Desille and Frederic Braun
Mixed by Steve Coleman, Joseph Marciano and Michael Marciano
Photography Jean-Marc Lubrano Design Rebus
Thanks to La Cite de la Musique, Paris
Thanks to Jean-Paul Artero and Pierre Walfisz of the Hot Brass Club
Recorded Live at the Hot Brass Club in Paris France March 29, 1995
Mixed April 1995 at Systems Two recording studio in Brooklyn, NY
All songs written by Steve Coleman and published by Goemon Publishing Co. (SESAC/GEMA)
except: “Round Midnight” written by T. Monk, Hanighen and C. Williams and published by Thelonious Music (BMI)/Warner Bros. (ASCAP) and “The Gypsy” written by William Reid and published by Colgems EMI Music Inc. (ASCAP)
Special thanks to David Murray for his contribution to the spirit of this recording.
This album is part of a trilogy.
Steve Coleman and The Mystic Rhythm Society
Myths, Modes and Means BMG 74321316922
Steve Coleman and Metrics
The Way of the Cipher BMG 74321316902
Steve Coleman and Five Elements
Curves of Life BMG 74321316932
Also available as a box set:
Steve Coleman’s Music
Live at the Hot Brass BMG 74321316912