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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Steve Lehman Octet - Travail, Transformation, And Flow (Pi Recordings, 2009) ***½

In an earlier review, I praised Steve Lehman's music, with the caveat that too much complexity works stifling. Unfortunately he goes further in the same direction on this album. Melodies change, but especially rhythms, adding complexities to complicated compositions that can only be dealt with by really excellent musicians, which this band certainly has. Next to Lehman's tenor, there is Mark Shim on tenor saxophone, Drew Gress on bass, Tyshawn Sorey on drums, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Jose Davila on tuba, Tim Albright on trombone, Chris Dingman on vibraphone. Listen especially to Tyshwans Sorey's drumming. His polyrhythmic creativity is an astonishing delight for the ears. There is energy galore, no doubt about it, and lots of "travail" surely went into the compositions and the rehearsals, "transforming" the notes into coherent music with a voice that has become Lehman's signature sound, yet it doesn't "flow". The overall complexity seems to have a suffocating effect on the liberating sounds that I would expect from jazz improvisation, here pushing the musicians to the kind of concentrated thinking that kills emotional delivery. There is as a consequence insufficient fluency, nor lyricism. And that's a pity.

Watch an interview with Lehman and a clip of "No Neighborhood Good Enough".

© stef


Anonymous said...

Hi Steff! It's a pleasure to read you, my friend.. By the way, sorry for not being very talkative on fb...;-). I just wanted to correct something here that you wrote (i understand it's out of shere mechanism) but Lehman does not play the tenor saxophone on this one, but the alto sax... ;-)

(fred alias iron man...;-))