- Analog Moment
- Open Music
- Haiku d’Etat Transcription
- Curse Fraction
- Check This Out
- On Meaning
- Great Plains of Algiers
“The layered complexity of his music attests to some careful calibration, but the playing reflects something else: a spirit of lunging abandon constrained by collective purpose.”
–Nate Chinen, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/17/arts/music/17choi.html?_r=2&ref=music&oref=slogin&oref=slogin)
“This is music that is constantly forcing fine improvisers out of their boxes – but check out the exultantly fizzing ensemble improv at the end of Curse Fraction and it’s clear that there’s nothing conceptually obsessed or cerebral about the process…Lehman is going to become an ensemble pacemaker.”
— John Fordham, The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/feb/08/jazz.shopping)
“Playing at a dizzying pace, intricately interacted with the similarly-minded Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet…On Meaning provides a showcase for Lehmans deeply textured composing style”
— Mike Szajewski, WNUR Jazz (http://jazz.wnur.org/picks/)
“This release by alto saxophonist Steve Lehman places him in the vanguard of great new composer/performers.”
–Phil DiPietro, All About Jazz (http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=27740)
Widely regarded as one of today’s bracingly original young composers, Steve Lehman‘s critically acclaimed quintet, combines groove-oriented musical content with highly contrapuntal, asymmetrical, and non-repetitive structural devices. Imagining his music in this way, Lehman creates elaborate formal works that remain rooted in the physicality of live performance and the visceral nature of urban rhythm.
Each of On Meaning‘s eight compositions addresses the challenge of creating fresh environments for modern improvisers and advances a unique and meticulously crafted vision of compositional form, harmony, rhythm, and orchestration. “Analog Moment” and “Curse Fraction” focus on the nature of background/foreground binaries, while “On Meaning” and “Haiku d’Etat Transcription” use changing speeds and metric modulations (both temporary and permanent) to challenge the members of Lehman’s quintet to draw from their individual resources in new ways. Other compositions, such as “Great Plains of Algiers”, draws from Lehman’s study of spectral harmony under Tristan Murail at Columbia University, while Open Music layers irrational rhythms and microtonal backgrounds in creating a richly imagined setting for Tyshawn Sorey’s featured drum solo.
Throughout “On Meaning”, Lehman’s cutting-edge compositional voice is brought to life by his remarkable quintet, featuring performer/improvisers who represent the absolute state-of-the-art on their respective instruments: Drew Gress on bass, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Tyshawn Sorey on drums, and Chris Dingman on vibraphone. Lehman’s own performance, on alto saxophone, bristles with the unique combination of explosiveness and precision that has been his trademark since he burst onto New York’s creative music scene in 2004. Much like the abstract and darkly compelling compositions of “On Meaning”, Lehmans work as a saxophonist combining a highly advanced harmonic language, microtonal playing, extended techniques, and a deeply rooted rhythmic sense — positions him, at 28, as one of the most significant voices to emerge in creative music in recent memory.