A saxophonist of a different order—part griot, theorist, numerologist, and incessant seeker of knowledge— Steve Coleman continues to forge new paths in creative music. He's influenced more of today's forward thinking artists than almost anyone in recent memory with his proven M-Base concepts. His critically acclaimed 2010 recording, Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings), was a welcome return to the spotlight, and the follow-up, The Mancy of Sound , is even more rewarding.
The cover's cutout silhouette of these guitar-slinging soul/blues women is a succinct visual overview of the rather ambiguous contents within. Recorded in preparation for 2007's Blues Caravan tour featuring journeywomen singer/songwriters Sue Foley and Deborah Coleman along with the comparatively fresh-faced Roxanne Potvin (whose first widely distributed set was released earlier the same year), the disc seems more like a respectable concert souvenir than an actual collaborative affair. The 11 tracks break down into three solo cuts from each participant, one shared and joyous effort on the closing cover of a Chess oldie, "In the Basement," and a crackling instrumental dominated by Foley's always impressive guitar. There are many fine moments here, especially as Coleman lays into an easy funk groove on James Brown's "Talking Loud" and on Potvin's emotionally charged ballad "Strong Enough to Hold You".
Deborah Coleman's Blind Pig debut, I Can't Lose, is a powerful album of great ballads and blues stories, and of course, great guitar playing and singing. Her version of Billie Holiday's "Fine and Mellow" got her a lot of airplay on college and public radio stations around the U.S.