All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

73

Steve Lehman: Dialect Fluorescent

Troy Collins By
Published:
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.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Pi Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop For Jazz

Live Reviews
General Articles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Mise en Abîme
Mise en Abîme
Pi Recordings
2014
buy
Dialect Fluorescent
Dialect Fluorescent
Pi Recordings
2012
buy
Travail, Transformation, and Flow
Travail,...
Pi Recordings
2009
buy
Manifold
Manifold
Clean Feed Records
2008
buy
On Meaning
On Meaning
Pi Recordings
2007
buy
Demian as Posthuman
Demian as Posthuman
Pi Recordings
2006
buy
David Binney David Binney
saxophone
Paul Motian Paul Motian
drums
Branford Marsalis Branford Marsalis
saxophone
Greg Osby Greg Osby
saxophone
Steve Coleman Steve Coleman
sax, alto
Steve Lacy Steve Lacy
sax, soprano
David Murray David Murray
sax, tenor

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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