All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

155

Steve Lantner Trio: Blue Yonder

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Steve Lantner, an active player in Boston's improvised music community, has an ear for the unexpected. His last trio outing, Saying So, established him as a literate, empathetic voice devoted to expanding language and lyricism through understatement. On this freely improvised followup, he breaks down a number of barriers, exploring territory marked by more overt dissonance and wider emotional dynamics—often doing so by leaping and bounding, rather than assembling careful, flowing statements.

His partners on Blue Yonder, a live recording at Cambridge's Zeitgeist Gallery, are two other New Englanders: veteran guitarist-cum-bassist Joe Morris, an important collaborator who returns from Saying So, and charismatic young drummer Luther Gray, who replaces Laurence Cook. The entire record, like Skycap's companion issue by Natural History, is loaded with twists and turns, both within and among its five ten-minute pieces.

The biggest surprise pops up right away after a quick solo bass introduction to the opening title tune, which swings hard from there on out. Morris has always been a closet swinger at heart, though it's nearly impossible to discern that in any obvious fashion from his guitar playing; here his running bass line meshes with Gray's own cymbal-based triplets to underpin Lantner's cascading runs and bunches. The joyous bounce and thrust of these angular, often Monkish motions sets an upbeat tone and draws the listener in. A fiery jam/climax kicks in about ten minutes into the tune, leading it out with counterpoint, clusters, and multiple intertwined lines.

Having gotten off to such a roaring start, the trio steps right away into a more hesitant mode on "If It Really Don't," which is full of odd timing and short, quirky phrases, evolving from a stop-start drum solo into a substantial three-way conversation. Listen here for dynamic action and reaction done very much in the moment. More swing surfaces on the next couple of tunes, of which the much faster "Hold On To" takes pacing, spontaneity, and abruptness to extremes. Lantner seems much more confident and assertive during times like this, and his fertile imagination seems to explode with ideas that he can barely fit into the space provided.

But this reckless abandon once again falls away into moody uncertainty on the closing piece, which is darker and more tentative, sometimes featuring more drum and bass than piano action. The players frame dissonance with an underlying tension, touching a dark netherworld, leaving lines hanging or drifting, never really getting to resolution.

All three members of this trio are open-minded, outspoken, inventive musicians who listen as much as they play, but Lantner's voice comes across the strongest and most adaptable over time. Given the quirks and range that characterize Blue Yonder, it's a more demanding listen than Lantner's last effort, but it's at least as good overall, which is no small accomplishment.

Visit Steve Lantner and Joe Morris on the web.


Track Listing: Blue Yonder; If It Really Don't; Three or Four; Hold On To; Long Last.

Personnel: Steve Lantner: piano; Joe Morris: bass; Luther Gray: drums.

Title: Blue Yonder | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Skycap Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Paradise Road

Paradise Road

Skycap Records
2006

buy
Blue Yonder

Blue Yonder

Skycap Records
2005

buy
Saying So

Saying So

Riti Records
2002

buy
 

Reaching

hat ART
2000

buy

Related Articles

Read Home Boy, Sister Out CD/LP/Track Review
Home Boy, Sister Out
by Chris May
Published: July 22, 2018
Read Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album Deluxe Edition CD/LP/Track Review
Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2018
Read The Literature CD/LP/Track Review
The Literature
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2018
Read A History Of Nothing CD/LP/Track Review
A History Of Nothing
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 21, 2018
Read Turbamulta CD/LP/Track Review
Turbamulta
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 21, 2018
Read 3 CD/LP/Track Review
3
by Jim Worsley
Published: July 21, 2018
Read "Gol" CD/LP/Track Review Gol
by James Nadal
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren" CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Der Dichter Spricht" CD/LP/Track Review Der Dichter Spricht
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 26, 2018
Read "Leading The British Invasion" CD/LP/Track Review Leading The British Invasion
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 31, 2017
Read "New Horizons" CD/LP/Track Review New Horizons
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 3, 2018