Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture

The Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture

by Steve Coleman
     
 
In January of 1996, Steve Coleman took his 11-piece Mystic Rhythm Society to Cuba to explore the music and culture of various traditions that have their origins in West Africa. Coleman and his band hooked up with AfroCuba de Matanzas, a Cuban group of percussionists, dancers, and singers, and after a week and a half of rehearsals,

Overview

In January of 1996, Steve Coleman took his 11-piece Mystic Rhythm Society to Cuba to explore the music and culture of various traditions that have their origins in West Africa. Coleman and his band hooked up with AfroCuba de Matanzas, a Cuban group of percussionists, dancers, and singers, and after a week and a half of rehearsals, performed together at the Havana Jazz Festival. The Sign and the Seal is the studio-recorded result of this experimental collaboration. It is an interesting fusion. When it works, it really works, as on "The Seal (Elekoto for Agayu)." The mixture of Afro-Cuban percussion, Ornette Coleman-derived jazz blowing, and Nigerian singing blends into a coherent whole. Even the rap by Kokayi, the Mystic Rhythm Society's resident lyricist, doesn't seem anachronistic or otherwise out of place. There are moments where the combination feels less like gin and tonic and more like oil and water, but they are few and far between. The individual members of the Mystic Rhythm Society do their best to blend in with the other musicians, and it is rare when one instrument dominates the mix. When one does, however, as in Gene Lake's ferocious drum solo on "The Diurnal Lord (for Agayu)," the listener is not disappointed. There are some moments of true sublimity on The Sign and the Seal, when the two bands come together and fall apart like an Ives symphony, both demanding the attention of the listener and yet somehow at the same time neither predominating, the friction between the musicians creating a sort of deconstructed null space in which order is somehow, paradoxically, found. Fans of traditional jazz, and even those aficionados of cross-genre hybrids such as those found on Ry Cooder/V.M. Bhatt's A Meeting by the River or Jan Garbarek/the Hilliard Ensemble's Officium, may want to steer clear of this record. Fans of Coleman (either Steve or Ornette), will certainly find this an interesting listen.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/14/1997
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0743214072721
catalogNumber:
40727

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Steve Coleman   Primary Artist,Leader,Alto Saxophone
Ralph Alessi   Trumpet
Josh Jones   Percussion,Claves
Andy Milne   Piano
Ravi Coltrane   Tenor Saxophone
Yosvany Terry Cabrera   Tenor Saxophone
Francisco Cespedes   Percussion,Vocals,Claves
Francisco Zamora Chirino   Leader,Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Yesniel Perez Domenech   Dancer
Roberto Vizcaino Guillot   Percussion
Anthony Tidd   Bass
Reynaldo Gobes Villamil   Percussion,Conga,Choir, Chorus
Pedro Aballi Torriente   Percussion,Conga,Choir, Chorus
Kokayi   Rap
Ramon Garcia Perez   Percussion,Conga,Choir, Chorus
Rosangela Silvestre   Vocals,Dancer
Sara Gobel Villamil   Choir, Chorus
Luis Cancino Morales   Percussion,Choir, Chorus,Claves
Ramses Zamora Molina   Choir, Chorus,Kata Drum
Marivaldo Dos Santos   Percussion,Djembe

Technical Credits

Steve Coleman   Producer,Liner Notes
Daniel Baumgarten   Executive Producer
Kokayi   Lyricist
Ramon Garcia Perez   Contributor

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