M-BASE COLLECTIVE

Eclectic Fusion • United States
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Although they came out with a CD in 1993 under the title of "M-Base Collective," this particular "band" was always a loose grouping of like-minded musicians intent in finding a new way to improvise. M-Base (which stands for Macro-Basic Array of Structured Extemporizations) utilizes funky (but surprisingly unpredictable) rhythms, unusual interval jumps in the solos, and a non-melodic approach. M-Base originated out of a musicians referral service that served as a job bank for jazz players. The original players of the style were altoists Steve Coleman and Greg Osby, trumpeter Graham Haynes, guitarist David Gilmore, electric bassist Kevin Bruce Harris, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and singer Cassandra Wilson among others; later practitioners included tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, pianists James Weidman and Andy Milne, and electric bassist Reggie Washington. The musicians often used each other on club dates and recording sessions, and in particular, the groups of Coleman read more...
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M-BASE COLLECTIVE Anatomy Of A Groove album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Anatomy Of A Groove
Eclectic Fusion 1992

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M-BASE COLLECTIVE Flashback On M-Base album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Flashback On M-Base
Eclectic Fusion 1993

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M-BASE COLLECTIVE Flashback On M-Base

Boxset / Compilation · 1993 · Eclectic Fusion
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snobb
Different from M-Base Collective's "Anatomy of a Groove", their only studio album, "Flashback On M-Base" released a year after (in Japan as well) is a compilation of M-Base Collective member's already released material, taken from their own albums. As with a lot of M-Base music, same or similar artists participate on almost any song of their movement's colleagues.

Both albums, being framed musically within M-Base concept, are quite different though. "Anatomy of a Groove" is groovy inspired monolith release, "Flashback On M-Base" is a bulky collection of some strong and some not so good numbers, covering stylistically widest possible variety of the sub-genre. As a result, "Flashback On M-Base's" separate songs do not always fit together, the programming looks a bit strange in moments and the whole album sounds very much as a collection of different songs.

The opener, "Micro-Move", comes from Strata Institute project, or in fact, from M-Base's two main ideologists, altoists Steve Coleman and Greg Osby, as their bare-naked groovy two-saxes soloing duel.

Trombonist Robin Eubanks "Never Give Up", is a drummer's framed funk jazz with some vocals and Greg Osby on alto among others. Steve Coleman's "To Perpetuate The Funk" is one of the strongest songs on the album with interesting lesser known Denise Karen Dyson on vocals (varying from operatic to r'n'b). "Silent Attitude" is a mid-tempo spacey keyboards driven duet with Greg Osby and keyboardist Geri Allen.

Singer Cassandra Wilson's "Rock This Calling" is a funky ballad of sorts with Steve Coleman on alto among others. Greg Osby's, "Gyrhythmitoid", contains a groovy bass line from Lonnie Plaxico and mechanistic drumming from Paul Samuels. Osby's alto soloing adds some life to the music though. Steve Coleman's, "I'm Going Home", with Cassandra Wilson (and Coleman himself) on vocals sounds as a free-funk-rock piece with Kelwyn Bell's electric guitars soloing and Geri Allen's heavy synths.

Third Greg Osby composition, "Mischief Makers", recalls early synth-based "robotic" hip-hop. Cassandra Wilson's "Never", with Steve Coleman on alto is dreamy and passionate, and like all the music on this album - funky. Second Robin Eubanks song, "Midtown", is a funky fusion number with lots of nice soloing trombone. Album closer - Steve Coleman Group's "Another Level" (the group itself is a duo of Coleman on alto and Marty "Smitty" Smith on drums) is a minimalist rhythmic song with lots of Coleman sax soloing over Smith's relaxed mechanistic drumming.

In all, this album is quite an interesting sampler of early M-Base music, collected in one place, but because of the eclectic nature and not always successful programming, it just doesn't sound like a whole.

M-BASE COLLECTIVE Anatomy Of A Groove

Album · 1992 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
snobb
M-Base, in a musical sense, was a development of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time ideas from the early 90s. Not a band per se, M-Base Collective was a loose formation of Brooklyn based artists led by alto saxophonists Steve Coleman and Greg Osby. Some other future well-known artists participated as well, partially guitarist David Gilmore and vocalist Cassandra Wilson.

Perfectly recorded (and surprisingly released in Japan only by domestic DIW label), "Anatomy of a Groove" represents M-Base music at its best. Groovy, funky, precisely played, creative but well-framed, it sounds fresh and unexpected, especially taking into account that the 90s weren't the most inspiring time for jazz. Comparing to Steve Coleman's later and better known work, the music here on "Anatomy of a Groove" is less mechanical, more playful (partially thanks to Cassandra Wilson's wordless vocalize) and in general can be even tagged as "slick" and "stylish". The interplay between musicians is just amazing.

For sure, it still is a music for an acquired taste. Similar to other genres based on rhythmic structures and repetitive construction (as in funk or funk jazz), for some it can sound pointless or undirected. For genre fans, it's a true gem though.

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