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The Sign and the Seal

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 14, 1997
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Diurnal Lord (For Agayu)
  2. The Seal (Elekoto For Agayu)
  3. Passage Of The River (For Oshun)
  4. Oya natureza
  5. Secretos Del Abacua
  6. Daudade
  7. The Metamorphosis Of Amalia/The Mystery Of Seven (THe Guaguanco In Progression)
  8. Prologue
  9. Guaguanco
  10. Abacua/Obatala
  11. Son
  12. Abacua/Obatala
  13. Montuno/Epilogue


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 14, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: BMG France
  • ASIN: B000003ETU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,730 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Steve Coleman's music is innovative and this CD does not let the listener down. His poly-rhythms, his sax phrasing and the interraction with his band members provides the new direction that so-called "Jazz" will go. His music blends music from many sources. You can listen over and over again and hear new things each time.
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Format: Audio CD
The saxophonist Steve Coleman began his career as band leader in the 1980s among a scene of African-American creative figures from New York known as the M-Base movement, which mixed contemporary urban trends with the jazz tradition. It took a long time for Coleman to establish a mature style, but by the early 1990s his proficiency with intricate time signatures and interlocking structures finally came together. Coleman wasn't content to play this cerebral but incredibly engaging music as something abstract, however. He became increasingly interested in how his playing might join with the musics of the African diaspora and mystical traditions from around the world. His 1996 effort THE SIGN AND THE SEAL is one of the first releases where this global engagement shines brightly.

In January 1996, Coleman flew to Havana for ten days to record this disc with AfroCuba de Matanzas, a Cuban troupe that seeks to maintain the West African musical traditions brought to the island with slavery. They are primarily singers and percussionists, which we can hear on this disc, but they also include dancers, which sadly we miss out on with this audio-only experience. Traveling with Coleman (alto sax) was an ensemble of some of his handpicked musicians, this time under the name The Mystic Rhythm Society: Ravi Coltrane (tenor sax), Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Andy Milne (piano), Anthony Tidd (bass) and Gene Lake (drums), plus the rapper Kokayi with whom Coleman made several collaborations at the time.

The vocals are generally chanted in a rather strident tone by a single singer who changes from song to song. Some tracks are sung in Yoruban (a language of Nigeria), and others in Spanish.
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Format: Audio CD
Steve Coleman, in his many manifestations, is an originator, and explorer. Whether in solo projects, Strata Institute, 5 Elements, The Mystic Rhythm Society, or as a sideman with others, Steve always pushes the envelope. He constantly reinvents himself, or at least seems like it. I'm biased cause I like his style of playing, reminds me of a reborn Ornette Coleman or Archie Shepp, but closer to 'downtown'. Although he's playing is very cognitive, he still brings it from the heart. That's hard to do. I guess the Maceo influence makes him more palpable, funkier, but to me it's much more far-reaching.
In this recording Steve is at the forefront but maintains a 'lower profile', letting the other musicians have their say. Smart, actually, when you have master and native musicians playing around you. The snare is a bit too loud in the mix (unfortunately typical of NY underground Jazz in the 90s!) but there's so much beauty and life here that nothing can stand in its way. The rhythms swing and sway, and the interplay between the voices and the instruments is heavenly. As you listen you just feel like you're being led through the wisdom of centuries, being enlightened by the sounds coming at you, through you.
If you like music, or Jazz, or Ethnic, or Explorative, this is the spiritual calling you've been searching for. All will be made clear in due time listening. The genius of this bandleader, and his wish to educate and give prominence to what would otherwise not be heard by many, is respectable and humbling.
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