On Meeting

[PI Recordings,]


[Clean Feed Records,]

It was only a few years ago that alto saxophonist Steve Lehman exploded on the scene. Within a span of only a few albums [and a number of appearance on other peoples records], he's been able to establish himself as a serious voice in new jazz circles.

His first new album in two years, "On Meaning" sees him approach composition from the viewpoint of heavily varying speeds and metric modulations, along with frequent changes in rhythm, form and orchestration. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey plays multi-rhythmic variations, while vibraphonist Chris Dingman counters the beat with his own variety of heavy-pulsing voicing. All the while bassist Drew Gress provides deep pulsations of his own. Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson is keenly adapted to Lehman's airy yet jagged playing style. Results are sometimes confusing as the arrangements change quickly and without much notice. Wonderful album, one that only gets better as one explores its inner workings in greater detail.

"Manifold" was recorded over a period of three days last year at the Jazz ao Centro Festival in Coimbra, Portugal. Over a span of nine numbers, Lehman plays music that is as intense and involving as the previous record. Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson is back in the fold again. His trumpet wails are equally alluring as they are complementary to Lehman's articulate style of playing. As heard on Andrew Hill composition "Dusk", Finlayson propels the melodies forward, while the rhythm section - bassist John Hebert and percussionist Nasheet Waits - play it somewhat loose. Things get interesting once we come to "Cloak and Dagger". At this point, Lehman is speaking with same intent as his counterpart on trumpet. Electricity is in the air. The band strikes a number of rolling highs and then dips down to a few cooler slow sections. Lehman's technique is flawless and every number emphasizes the group togetherness even more. This is music that is clairvoyant; where the four speak on the same level. An excellent album all around - one that will propel Lehman even further into the spotlight.

Tom Sekowski

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