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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stephan Crump & Steve Lehman - Kaleidoscope and Collage (Intakt, 2011) ****

By Stef

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.

Buy from Instantjazz.

© stef


Steve Lehman said...

Thanks for your thoughtful review, Stef. For the sake of clarity, it's probably worth it to point out that all of the music on "Kaleidoscope & Collage" was completely improvised (at least when it was first performed). There was no discussion of planning or specific strategies before playing/recording together.

Later, when we constructed the final recording and mixed it together, we did indeed pay special attention to the sequence and directionality of each track -- looking for all kinds of different connections in the material we had improvised. Some of the transitions we composed after playing are very smooth and others are very abrupt, as you point out.

All of this should be fairly clear after a careful reading of the liner notes for the CD -- apologies from me, Stephan, and David Adler, if that's not the case.

Stef said...

Hi Steve,
Many thanks for the clarification. I may have read the liner notes too fast to grasp this nuance.
All the best