Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Jeff Lederer: Balls of Simplicity


Jeff Lederer: Balls of Simplicity


Sign in to view read count
Jeff Lederer: Balls of Simplicity
To describe Jeff Lederer's latest offering, borrow a catchphrase from Monty Python's Flying Circus, "and now for something completely different." The saxophonist, clarinetist and composer might be best known for reimagining the music of Albert Ayler in both the traditions of the Shaker Christian sect or in a sea shanties format, his irreverent reimagining of Dixieland music with Swing N' Dix, and his horns in drummer Matt Wilson's ensembles. Lederer's Balls of Simplicity moves into the world of chamber music, with his compositions performed by the Morningside Tone Collective comprising Leo Sussman's flute, Emmaile Tello's clarinet, Francesca Abusamra's violin, Jordan Bartow's cello, and Weiwei Zhai's piano. Lederer also performs in a duo with Tello on one track, and there is a guest appearance by Jamie Saft on "Piano Piece (1979)."

Is the music jazz? No, but it certainly can be identified as Lederer music. "Bodies Of Water For Flute, Cello, And Piano" performed in three movements evokes the trickle and rush of streams, the quietness of pools, and the swirl of eddies. Imagine the fish and insects conjured by pacific flute, pizzicato cello, and the busy bee piano tracing the life of brooks, ponds and rivers. Lederer's compositions memorialize the Bhopal, India, disaster of 1984 with "Song for the Kaliyuga" and he revisits compositions adapted from Shaker music he performed with his Shakers N' Bakers band. "Vision Songs" in three movements is performed by flute, violin, clarinet, and cello. The music is pure Americana with the chamber ensemble drawing from country folk, bluegrass, Appalachian, and Shaker gospel sounds. Lederer's duo on clarinets with Emmaile Tello, written after the passing of his father, is both a tribute and a lament over the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. The final track, brief at just 2½ minutes, is Saft's performance of Lederer's notated piano composition ,"Piano Piece (1979)." The austere and undecorated performance ends in a vacuum, one crowded with silence.

Track Listing

Bodies Of Water For Flute, Cello, And Piano (2020): mvt 1. Keets Brook; mvt 2. Sweet Pond; mvt 3. Green River; Song for the Kaliyuga For Piano, Clarinet, Violin, And Cello (1984); Vision Songs For Flute, Clarinet, Violin, And Cello: mvt 1. Pretty Little Angels; mvt 2. Balls Of Simplicity; mvt 3. Dismission Of Great I; Persistence of Memory For Two Clarinets (2015); Piano Piece (1979).


Jeff Lederer
composer / conductor
Additional Instrumentation

Morningside Tone Collective: Leo Sussman: flute; Emmaile Tello; clarinet; Francesca Abusamra: violin; Jordan Bartow: cello; Weiwei Zhai: piano.

Album information

Title: Balls of Simplicity | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Little (i) Music



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Elegy for Thelonious
Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble
Mendoza - Hoff - Revels
Marco Baldini
Hackney Diamonds (2CD)
Rolling Stones


Jazz Hands
Bob James
London Afrobeat Collective
Light Streams
John Donegan - The Irish Sextet

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.