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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman Octet: Mise en Abîme

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It's been five years since Steve Lehman's last Octet album, so we're now voracious for more expanded material. Right at the start, his alto saxophone is briefly alone, and then the entire ensemble weighs in, earthy yet finely controlled. Chris Dingman's customised vibraphone is absolutely central to the sound of these Lehman originals, most of which are notably brief and pointed in their attack. At a mere 40 minutes, this is a very succinct jazz album, in the old-time way. It might not be immediately apparent to the listener, but Lehman has taken the bones of three ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman: Mise en Abîme

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There's much ado about the co-mingling of styles, languages, and genres in saxophonist Steve Lehman's music. A good amount of what's been written about his work has focused on his use of spectral music techniques and live electronics, the specially-made microtonal vibraphone that Chris Dingman plays, and the way Lehman mixes it all together to create his own brand of creative music. It's completely understandable that those would be the talking points, but the music really speaks for itself. On Mise en Abîme, the follow-up to the Steve Lehman Octet's widely acclaimed Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman: Mise en Abîme

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Composer/saxophonist Steve Lehman's credentials are as unique as his music. A Fulbright scholar with a PhD in composition, his on the job training has been at the hands of a diverse group of teachers including saxophone legends Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton. A New York native, Lehman garnered widespread praise with the groundbreaking Travail, Transformation and Flow (Pi Recordings, 2009) and he returns with the same octet on Mise en Abîme. Lehman continues to apply a scientific approach to his ethereal compositions, studying the behavior of sounds and dissecting, restructuring and analyzing to the point where he has created something ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent

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Among studies with new music icons, reedman Anthony Braxton and trombonist George Lewis, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman has emerged as an important figures in the recent shift towards a more radical spin on jazz. Pushing the envelope is a common thrust for Lehman, who historically enjoys working within a tight-knit trio setting. On this release, he tenders a fervent mix of jazz standards and originals. Lehman's chromatic attack features a sweet-toned sound, often dissected with rippling flurries and brazen firepower to contrast a surfeit of alternating rhythmic excursions. On “Foster Brothers," the trio exercises some muscle for a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman: Dialect Fluorescent

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Currently a doctoral candidate in Music Composition at Columbia University, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman's previous releases for Pi Recordings include Travail, Transformation and Flow (2009), On Meaning (2007) and Demian as Post-Human (2005). On these cerebral endeavors, the former Fulbright scholar and Wesleyan graduate engaged his penchant for fusing vintage hard bop-style melodies with post-M-Base rhythmic structures--modernist affairs that deftly balanced nostalgic reverie with futuristic innovation.Compared to the high-minded conceptualism of Lehman's previous albums (the most recent explored the melodic potential of computer-derived spectral harmony), Dialect Fluorescent seems downright conventional. Split evenly between classic covers and pithy originals, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent

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Decoding the music of saxophonist Steve Lehman has become a diversion for many a jazz listener (and critic). Sometimes composed with the help of programming software, his harmonies are meshed with mercurial rhythms. When played by his octet, his music gives the impression that it requires a scorecard to keep tabs on its perplexing complexities. Then, come to think about it, a frustrated Cab Calloway in the 1940s described Dizzy Gillespie's invention bebop as “Chinese music." While “Chinese music" might not be the preferred nomenclature this century, Lehman's music (like bebop), translates well with repeated exposure and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stephen Crump / Steve Lehman: Kaleidoscope & Collage

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Bassist Stephan Crump and alto saxophonist Steve Lehman are both musicians with little time for musical boundaries. Their CVs confirm this, but what they perhaps don't throw up so readily is that they are both closer to the future of this music than many of their contemporaries. In recent years, Crump has been an active member of pianist Vijay Iyer's small groups, while Lehman has been a member of Fieldwork, along with Iyer. This shared point of reference is of limited utility, however, and is hardly surprising, given that both men are deeply aware that improvised music has to evolve ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rudresh Mahanthappa / Steve Lehman: Dual Identity

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Alto saxophonists Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa are prime forces and motivators for the new jazz; artists who can boast impressive resumes as leaders, and first-call session champions that assist with surging the modern jazz element into diagonally opposed schemas. Dual Identities is a fascinating glimpse of what happens when two saxophonists merge their respective styles into dense compositional soundscapes.With countering maneuvers, off-centered metrics and scintillating aerial assaults, the quartet primes for the kill on “The General." Here, the saxophonists bob, weave and impart an idiosyncratic and sizzling modus operandi atop unorthodox beats. Like whirling dervishes vying for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman / Rudresh Mahanthappa: Dual Identity

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Recorded live at Portugal's Braga Jazz Festival in 2009 Dual Identity features two leading sax innovators--Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa--in a stunning performance. Their discographies are synonymous with the current environment of progressive jazz; music that stretches boundaries with fresh ideas in conceptualization (Lehman's spectral harmony experiments in Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings, 2009)) and broad culture awareness (Mahanthappa's unique blend of Eastern and Western music in Apti (Innova Recordings, 2009)). Their bold alto frontline is further enhanced by simpatico partners in crime: guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Damion Reid in a recording that does not ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman Octet: Travail, Transformation, and Flow

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On Travail, Transformation, and Flow saxophonist Steve Lehman continues down the creative path blazed on his previous release, On Meaning (Pi Recordings, 2007). In addition to updating the earlier session's rhythmic energy with even more audaciously contemporary beats, he presents the first jazz-oriented exploration of the musical concept known as spectral harmony.

In spectral harmony, prominent overtones are organized, with the help of computer analysis, according to frequency relationships rather than intervals, yielding striking new harmonies. Lehman advances the spectral music concepts initially developed by French classical composer Tristan Murail (who Lehman studied with at Columbia University in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman: Travail, Transformation, and Flow

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Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman is well known for conceptual and cutting edge works including Manifold (Clean Feed Records, 2007) and On Meaning (Pi Recordings, 2008), as well as his involvement in seminal groups like the cooperative Fieldwork with pianist Vijay Iyer and drummer TyShawn Sorey. With past recordings consisting of smaller ensembles, the bandleader/composer literally multiplies his ideas on this release via a highly charged octet, fitted with rhythm section, dual saxophones, trombone, trumpet, tuba and vibraphone. With a fierce group of like-minded individualists, the octet communicates Lehman's fascinating explorations in spectral harmony music concepts introduced by ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Steve Lehman: Travail, Transformation, and Flow & Kuntu

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Steve Lehman Travail, Transformation, and Flow Pi Recordings 2009 Michel Edelin Trio Kuntu Rogue Art 2009 There's much about Steve Lehman's Travail, Transformation, and Flow that the packaging won't tell you. It's an interesting statement, in fact, on how the music is being projected into the world that the rather heady origins of this wholly organic music aren't disclosed alongside the record. Lehman's a smart guy and his dual tutelage under Anthony Braxton and ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Steve Lehman

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Meet Steve Lehman: Named a Rising Star on the alto saxophone in 2006, 2007, and 2008 by the Down Beat Magazine International Critics Poll, Steve Lehman is a saxophonist and composer whose work resides on the frontier of contemporary music. He has been recognized as one of today's truly original creative voices by The Wire, The New York Times, and Down Beat Magazine, as well as by National Public Radio and the BBC. A former student of both Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, he has performed and recorded throughout the United States and Europe with his own ensembles, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Lehman Quartet: Manifold

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In just a few years, Steve Lehman has established a remarkable track record as a saxophonist, bandleader and composer. This quartet recording is drawn from performances recorded in 2007 in Coimbra, a small city in central Portugal. Contemporaneous with the quintet recording On Meaning (Pi, 2007), Manifold is a slightly looser ensemble, with more emphasis on free interaction than the group textures of the quintet. It's a consistently brilliant band, from the subtle, offside pointillism of trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson to the springy, resonant fundamentals and almost pianistic upper register of bassist John Hebert. If one musician contributes ...



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