In some previous reviews I questioned the compositional complexity that saxophonist Steve Lehman put into his music, because in my opinion it created a kind of barrier to bring across real emotional rapport with the listener, who may be in awe for the skills and intellectual effort, yet is a little bit too baffled to still be part of it.
Nothing of the sort takes place on this fantastic album, quite to the contrary. Together with bassist Stephan Crump, they create two improvisations : "Terroir", a little over twenty minutes, and "Voyages", sixteen minutes long. The improvisation itself is not entirely free : both musicians agreed on some structure and pieces of interplay that they had developed during previous sessions. The merged these conceptually into one flow, which works sometimes, but not always, in the sense that both improvisations contain some pauses as if a new track starts.
The end result is a real treat, extremely sensitive and captivating, accessible as post-bop and creative as avant-garde music. Crump and Lehman have the same gentle and lyrical approach to their music, with a strong coherence in the development of the sound. Just listen how the light-footed first track turns dark and foreboding, with the bowed bass underpinning some despairing alto phrases.
Precision and finesse are combined with creativity and implicit groove, with instruments that are at times barely touched, resulting in whimpering or humming sounds, yet the lack of power and voice create a sweet kind of emotional intensity.
A strong performance, but very short, too short.
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