155

Steve Lantner Trio: Blue Yonder

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Lantner Trio: Blue Yonder 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.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Skycap Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Chromola CD/LP/Track Review Chromola
by John Eyles
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn CD/LP/Track Review Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Nature City CD/LP/Track Review Nature City
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin CD/LP/Track Review Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 23, 2017
Read This Is The Uplifting Part CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Live At The Troubadour 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Troubadour 1969
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Rivers" CD/LP/Track Review Rivers
by James Nadal
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!