Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Sine Die [Pangaea, 1988]
Between their groove-busting tempo shifts and putative profundities, Coleman's two earlier records were enough to make you wonder whether smart fusion was any better than the dumb kind. This is definitely an improvement--at its best, it combines the modern tonalities of schooled bebop with the snap and kick of professional funk. Not the bump and thump, though. And while Cassandra Wilson sings more and intones less, she still has to deal with Coleman's lyrics. Which must be why Sting likes the guy. B