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.
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
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