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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Steven Lugerner - For We Have Heard (NoBusiness/Primary Records, 2013) ***½

By Martin Schray

I have to confess something. Sometimes I do not listen to music with appropriate attention, I listen to it when I cook, when I clean my flat or when I read my weekly paper. Yet, sometimes the music grabs me and I can’t help concentrating on it (which happens very often with Peter Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson, Agustí Fernandez, Waclaw Zimpel or David S. Ware, for example), but sometimes I can focus on the other things. This listening habit does not do Steven Lugerner’s “For We Have Heard” justice, an album that demands close and attentive listening because of its very delicate and tender compositions.

The reason for this delicacy is the fact Lugerner uses texts from the Book of Joshua in the Torah, and he wrote the music by using gematria, a traditional rabbinical system to assign numbers to verses from the Torah and taking them as a basis for each composition. He said that he “devised a couple of ways of turning those numbers into music.” What sounds really theoretical and sober is actually rather fascinating.

 “For We Have Heard” is the sophomore album to “Narrative/These are the Words” and  multi-instrumentalist Lugerner (clarinets, saxophones, flute, English horn, oboe) has rounded up his combatants Darren Johnston (trumpet), Myra Melford (piano) and Matt Wilson (drums) again.  Located at the interface of jazz and Judaism, the album continues what was started on the first album, the musicians often play intricate unison parts while the drums are released from setting a pulse and rather contribute to the melodic lines of the pieces, which are miniatures in which the band is often split up in solos, duos and trios.

Exceptions to the rule are two larger compositions: the title track, in which the whole band is at work before the clarinet opens a tender dialogue with piano and drums, and  “All Those Kings”, which is based on the classic gospel “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”. The piece starts with a drum/alto duo before there is the only real free jazz moment of the album, when the whole band seems to forget the notated parts and accelerates before they pick up the gospel theme at the end again.

For NoBusiness this is a rather unusual album but it proves their openness for new music again.

The vinyl is distributed by NoBusiness and limited to 500 copies, Primary Records distributes a CD version as well.

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Listen to the album on bandcamp:


Anonymous said...

You should stick to reviewing (endlessly) your dear old Brötzman. We're also glad that you can become so blasé as to remotely pay attention to the CDs that you receive for free but nonetheless drop a tiny turd on it.
Good grief, to read that kind of crap!!!

Paolo said...

Anonymous by name and by nature, it seems. And considering the majestic plural in the second sentence, I'd say also kind of wimpy.
For your information, noone here receives records for free. By the way you received the freedom to express your thoughts...

Martin Schray said...

Interesting point of view. I haven't reviewed an album I got for free, I bought it from NoBusiness (and I buy every LP they release because I have the deepest respect of what they do).
But yes, I review a lot of Brötzmann because I consider him one of one of the most important musicians of the last 45 years and his titanic output is worth to be reflected.
When you speak of "you" do you mean me or the other writers as well? Usually, I am always interested in different views and if you think the review is crappy, well: feel free to do that.
But offending us/me (anonymously!) is certainly not helpful. I don't even get why you are so upset. Because of the ranking (I gave Brötzmann "Live China 2011" three stars)? The Lugerner review itself is absolutely positive. Frankly, I have been wondering how long it will take until such polemic stuff reaches our comment section.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that I enjoyed this review that certainly intrigued me and makes me want to hear the music. Written concisely, informatively and with humour (glad someone else does the chores and listens at the same time).
I can't think of anything more that I want from a review, really. So thanks Martin

A Differnet Anonymous (Mark)

ps. Keep reviewing the Brotzmanns please. "Solid and Spirit" is a stormer

Unknown said...

I also want to express thanks to the reviewers of this site, it's such a great resource. I'd assumed that you all received your copies free, and that didn't bother me at all. This is probably the best "clearinghouse" of information for this type of music on the web. I hope more discussion takes place in the future via the comments.

Colin Green said...

Just to add my support to Martin, and his clear, informative, and often intriguing reviews. There are many things in life to which one can properly take offence. Martin’s reviews are not among them.

joesh said...

Hi Martin

Yes, I'm also a little bemused, maybe anonymous was referring to another review? You have only positive things to say about the record, or maybe that was the problem?

Thanks for the review.

joesh said...

Hi Martin

Yes, I'm also a little bemused, maybe anonymous was referring to another review? You have only positive things to say about the record, or maybe that was the problem?

Thanks for the review.

Hi Craig

Just to be clear about receiving free albums. We get a lot of records sent in to us either from the record company, or the artist. 90% are sound files (just mp3s), no cover, and some notes from the company explaining who's on the record etc. Reviewers also buy their own records and review those as well.

As Martin says he buys all the NoBusiness catalogue, which I agree is a great label. Stef (I think) buys records and lets other people review them, if they are interested.

To add to that I personally end up buying some of albums that look particularly interesting so that I can have a 'hard' copy, much better than 1s and 0s I find!

I hope that clears things up.

Thanks for following the blog

Rui António said...

A review is just an opinion from one person. Any opinion is subjective and worth what is worth.
Reading an opinion from another person don't mean that i agree. And i can express my one WITHOUT OFFENDING.
I bet that "anonymous" like it also, otherwise he wouldn't read reviews from here.
Please keep nice reviewing as always.
This blog is a disgrace for my pocket and blame it on Stef, Paolo Casertano, Martin Schray, Paul Acquaro... Shame on you

Martin Schray said...

Thank you very much for your support, Paolo, Craig, Mark, Colin and Joe. I have always been aware that the site has had a good reputation among the people who love this music and even among musicians (that’s at least what Mats Gustafsson, Dave Rempis, Pascal Niggenkemper and Waclaw Zimpel told me). I guess the labels appreciate this blog’s work, too, sometimes they post our reviews on their sites as well (like NoBusiness or AUM, for example). It is simply a great thing Stef has started.
What is interesting in the whole context here is the assumption that we get CDs for free. We do not get anything for our work here, no money, no free copies, no free tickets for concerts. If we want to review an album Stef sometimes gets us a download copy, in my case I usually buy the albums I review (no matter if I have a download or not). I guess most of us write because we simply like to support this great music. I have been helping out here for a year and I am grateful that Paul, Stef and Joe gave me the opportunity to do this.

Unknown said...

Thanks for clarifying the relationship of the reviewers to the site, although as I mentioned in my previous post, I was actually hopeful for your sakes that you got some releases free! I know my wallet takes a hit because of my love for this music. Each of you has your own voice, which is refreshing to read, and I appreciate the honesty of the reviews, instead of the reflexive, "everything is wonderful" approach which I see in some more commercial sites.