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Monday, March 2, 2009

Steve Lantner Quartet - Given/Live In Münster (Hatology, 2008) ****

What makes this album so good is also typical for the label: the musicianship is great, the music is jazz (harmonically, rhythmically), but with a great exploratory approach, .... and it swings! No doubt about it, the unrelenting drive of bass (Joe Morris) and drums (Luther Gray), gives the whole performance a great forward propulsion, with Lantner's piano and Allan Chase's sax taking the lead roles. But the real quality of the music lies in its structured openness. As Lantner describes it in the liner notes: "Harmonically speaking, the sound that I am striving for in my music strikes a balance between consonance and dissonance, and I use the term 'resonance' to describe it. I tend to seek a harmonic middle ground, so that if the music sounds a little too rich harmonically, I try to center it with a more clearly established tonal center. Alternately, as the music becomes too settled with a clear tonal center, I will extend the harmonic pallette". The result is both open-ended and rich at the same time, expressive in the improvisations, with especially Chase doing a great job, alternating his style between staccato blasts to more lyrical expansive playing, and especially the latter works well with Lantner's percussive piano style. Joe Morris and Luther Gray are an exceptional rhythm section (and again, I prefer Morris on bass than on guitar), demonstrating that they have played together a lot, and the third release with Lantner in the lead. Lantner's musical approach of cleverly creative nervously agitated free form can only be appreciated and enjoyed.

Listen to an extract from "Given, Part 1"

© stef