Monday, December 03, 2007

Steve Lehman – On Meaning (Pi Recordings, 2007)

Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman has been carving out a unique niche in cutting edge jazz on his own diverse projects and in the collective group Fieldwork. On this album he is joined by Drew Gress on bass, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Tyshawn Sorey on drums, and Chris Dingman on vibraphone. This disc is a very good updating of the tart alto and vibraphone sound pioneered by Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and Lehman's mentor Jackie McLean on Blue Note Records during the mid 1960's. “Analog Moment” has a complex and mysterious sounding improvisation, with very urgent sounds coming from the horns, and haunting vibraphone accents. “Open Music” is very much like it says on the tin, with percussive drums and vibes setting the mood before alto sax and trumpet open up and join the fray. This performance has an Out To Lunch vibe to it, bringing the classic Eric Dolphy album into the 21st century. Jagged and pungent alto saxophone are also the hallmarks of the wonderfully titled “Haiku d'etat Transcription” and they short but very dynamic “Curse Fraction.” The music has a wide open and spacious sound which gives everyone a chance to comment on the proceedings and collective improvisation is encouraged, no one is locked into a particular role. Score another one for Pi, a little label run on a shoestring that is making some of the best music in jazz right about now.

Send comments to: Tim