Saturday, April 19, 2008

Steve Lehman - Manifold (Clean Feed, 2007)

Saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman works at the intersection of composition and free jazz, creating many opportunities for improvisatory exploration. On this live album, he is accompanied by
Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, John Hebert on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. "Interface D" opens the disc in an explosive fashion with a storming and powerful freebop performance propelled by very powerful drumming. Andrew Hill's composition "Dusk" is the centerpiece of this album, with bass and drums laying down a carpet for sax and trumpet. This builds to an exciting alto solo from Lehman, reminiscent to Hill's colleague Eric Dolphy. Powerful, hyperactive drumming anchors this exciting performance. "Interface F" opens with throbbing bass and some thin trumpet in an abstract improvisation. "Interface C" puts Waits' great strength behind the kit on display again, while "Cloak and Dagger" sports some jumping and juking saxophone akin to Lehman's mentor, Jackie McLean. Intense, swirling saxophone is also at the center of "Interface A" along with strong, muscular drums and bass. The concert ends on a abstract note, with "Berceuse", a moody and melancholy performance, and the solo saxophone encore "For Evan Parker" which weaves circular patters of distorted saxophone in a manner reminiscent of its dedicatee. This was a very good and consistently interesting album of modern jazz. This group is using jazz instrumentation and improvisation to explore interesting avenues of music with positive results.

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