73

Steve Lehman: Dialect Fluorescent

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Lehman: Dialect Fluorescent 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, this stripped-down trio session features bold interpretations of beloved standards that are every bit as vibrant as the saxophonist's state-of-the-art compositions—further cementing Lehman's reputation as a forward-thinking traditionalist.

Bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Damion Reid's animated rapport infuses Lehman's complex writing and unique arrangements with an elastic but stalwart foundation, whether navigating the asymmetrical detours of the leader's Eastern-tinged "Allocentric" or the modulating rhythms of a fragmentary version of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice." Conveying an overriding sense of aesthetic continuity to the date, the trio imbues swinging chestnuts like Duke Pearson's ebullient "Jeannine" and Jackie McLean's rousing "Mr. E" with palpable conviction, their subtle tempo displacements finding common ground with the shifting counter-rhythms of Lehman's labyrinthine pieces, like "Alloy" and "Foster Brothers."

As the leader and sole horn, Lehman's assured tone and dexterous articulation is showcased to excellent effect throughout the album. He unleashes blistering staccato cadences with driving urgency and convincing pathos, most notably on a stunning cover of the saccharine ballad, "Pure Imagination," culled from the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Like Coltrane's revered reinterpretations of "Chim Chim Cheree" and "My Favorite Things," Lehman elevates the material, transforming a disposable novelty into a transcendent meditation; his intervallic variations and trenchant cries brim with rhapsodic lyricism, underscored by Brewer and Reid's bustling interplay. Conceptually audacious, Lehman's recasting of the song as an ecstatic free bop anthem is a stroke of genius and a telling appraisal of Lehman's gift for adaptation, an aspect that defines Dialect Fluorescent as a standout effort in his discography.

Track Listing: Allocentric (Intro); Allocentric; Moment's Notice; Foster Brothers; Jeannine; Alloy; Pure Imagination; Fumba Rebel; Mr. E.

Personnel: Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Matt Brewer: bass; Damion Reid: drum set.

Title: Dialect Fluorescent | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Vitamina D" CD/LP/Track Review Vitamina D
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Black Art Jazz Collective - Presented By The Side Door Jazz Club" CD/LP/Track Review Black Art Jazz Collective - Presented By The Side Door Jazz...
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "We Are The World" CD/LP/Track Review We Are The World
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 27, 2016
Read "Angry Waves Vol.1&2" CD/LP/Track Review Angry Waves Vol.1&2
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Sektion 1-2" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 1-2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Extremophile" CD/LP/Track Review Extremophile
by John Eyles
Published: April 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.