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If you’ve never heard of alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, it might be because there’s no easy way of describing his music so that it sounds good. The 47-year-old Chicago-born musician refuses to ignore popular music made in his lifetime, merging hiphop and funk influences with an early love for Charlie Parker. And though jazz purists may think this kind of fusion sounds sketchy, it works great in practice. On Coleman’s latest, On the Rising of the 64 Paths, the saxophonistwho’s done time with avant-gardists Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, and Dave Hollandweaves clean and dry bop melodies around breakbeats that sound as jazz-natural as any Max Roach rhythm. Coleman plays with the Five Elements at 8 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10. (202) 234-0072. (Brent Burton)