* * 1/2 Steve Coleman, Robin Eubanks, Greg Osby, Cassandra Wilson, "Flashback on M-base," JMT. This collection, spanning nine years, is certainly not the best of M-base, the hip-hop-meets-jazz movement that's been hailed as the music's badly needed new direction. A varied sampling of the Brooklyn-born genre, it includes M-base's worst as well, like the repetitive beat anthem "To Perpetuate the Funk" and the irritating "I'm Going Home," both written by Kevin Bruce Harris. But the movement's strength and promise--strong, angular rhythmic pulses that power the urban sax sounds of Osby and Coleman--are also included. As the M-base principals, the saxophonists play to a draw, though Coleman wins as the better composer. Skip this collection and buy their albums (Coleman's "Motherland Pulse" and Osby's "Season of Renewal") instead.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended), four stars (excellent).

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