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ALBUM REVIEWS : STEVE COLEMAN AND FIVE ELEMENTS "Rhythm People" Novus/RCA *** 1/2

January 13, 1991|DON SNOWDEN

Coleman is an M-Base ringleader and his first Novus release demands adjustments in the way listeners approach contemporary electric jazz. Rhythm is the key element but "Rhythm People" isn't an exercise in facile groove-mongering--the improvisations spring from Marvin (Smitty) Smith's constantly shifting drum patterns more than formal melodic lines or chord changes. The best pieces: Robin Eubanks' fat trombone doubling Coleman's elongated alto sax melody through "Neutral Zone," and the slippery, peek-a-boo performance of "Ice Moves." The problems usually arise when the arrangements are too busy to allow the music to breathe, but "Rhythm People" grows on you with repeated listening.

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