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Steve Lehman: Sélébéyone

Mark Corroto By

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The remastered edition of the Beastie Boys disc Check Your Head (Capitol, 2009) has a bonus disc with a live track from Budokan, Japan. A Japanese rapper, MC Poo, raps "Microphone Check" in broken English before continuing on in Japanese. Without the language, he knew what the Beasties were about and also without the Japanese language, we know what time it is.

Same can be said for American saxophonist Steve Lehman's Sélébéyone. Sélébéyone or "intersection ," is a convergence between Western culture and West Africa, American rapper HPrizm and Senegalese rapper Gaston Bandimic, jazz and hip-hop, the West and the East. Just like Dakar where French is the official language, Wolof is spoken as an intersection with French and Arabic. The music here is jazz, which is rooted in the music of African, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Never has the connection between jazz and hip-hop been made as clear as Lehman has made it here. Listening to Sélébéyone it dawns on you that his previous works like Mise en Abîme (Pi Recordings, 2014) and Demian as Posthuman (Pi Recordings, 2005) parallel this exploration into hip-hop. His selective use of live electronics and drum programming augment the acoustic bassist Drew Gress, drummer Damion Reid, and the keyboards of Carlos Home.

Lehman's focus here is the intersection of HPrizm, or High priest from Antipop Consortium, and Senegalese star Gaston Bandimic. The two cultures commingle, but where HPrizm speaks of basketball star Allen Iverson, Bandimic raps about snake hunters trying to catch elephants. Their messages are the same, but are spoken to different audiences. Bandimic's Wolof language is exotic and strange to Western ears, just as jazz was probably to the ears of the first Europeans to hear this American music. Like the rappers, Lehman and the French speaking saxophonist Maciek Lasserre find their own intersection of language—Lehman's alto with Lasserre's soprano.

Like all titanic hip-hop and jazz records theirs contains much to consider, lessons to be learned, poetry to contemplate, and new cultures to absorb.

Track Listing: Laamb; Are You In Peace?; Akap; Origine; Cognition; Hybrid; Dualis; Geminou; Bamba.

Personnel: Gaston Bandimic: vocals; HPrizm: vocals; Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Maciek Lasserre: soprano saxophone; Carlos Homs: piano, keyboards; Drew Gress: acoustic bass; Damion Reid: drum set.

Title: Sélébéyone | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


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