In something of a departure for the Lithuanian No Business label, young San Francisco-born, NYC-based reedman Steven Lugerner presents a LP of his thoughtfully arranged charts. To breathe life into the notation, Lugerner has assembled a talented crew, which he carefully deploys in varying combinations across the ten cuts. Not only that but he also overdubs himself in places to create a woodwind chorus and orchestral scale touches.
On trumpet, Bay Area resident Darren Johnston veers between melodic extemporizations and timbral effects, while pianist Myra Melford reminds us why she is such an in-demand performer, taking cameo roles on two numbers which bookend the bulk of the 33-minute program: the concise but sprightly "Us and Our Fathers" and magnificently dashing "Our Children in Time." However drummer Matt Wilson proves the key figure, as his tuned cadences and pinpoint meter provide the main unifying features. It's harder to get a fix on the leader, as he switches between a battery of horns, ranging from pure-toned soprano saxophone to gallumphing bass clarinet.
In fact Lugerner's conception furnishes the prime talking point. He has fashioned a suite-like work, comprising multiple short tracks, best appreciated as a whole. It's not about wild solos. Most are pithy, tuneful and fitted to the contours of the piece, as exemplified by "When a Long Blast is Sounded" which begins with martial drums and stately piano. A lilting trumpet statement emerges from a unison with clarinet, but quickly merges with looser drum rhythms, before the drums take the piece out. When a brief passage of edgy interplay transpires on "All Those Kings" it signals a departure and indicates a potentially fertile sphere for future investigation, whereby the talented crew exert more leeway within the attractive arrangements.
Track Listing: Us and Our Fathers; When a Long Blast is Sounded; Drove Out Before Us;
Be Strong and Resolute; Before Our Very Eyes; Through Whose Midst We
Passed; For We Have Heard; Up From The Land; All Those Kings; Our
Children in Time
Personnel: Steven Lugerner: Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, English Horn, soprano
and alto saxophones, flute, alto flute; Darren Johnston: trumpet; Myra
Melford: piano; Matt Wilson; drums.
Rhythm Abstraction: Azure is the first volume of new compositions created as a follow up to 2018’s
release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion
solos. Frank Macchia then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Azure
is the first of three extended play albums of 6-7 compositions which will be released starting in
January and followed up in April and July. In Azure we have a created a group of pieces that continue
our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of
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