Steven Lugerner | For We Have Heard | No Business Records

Last summer I previewed a concert by an excellent New York jazz trio called Chives, led by the reedist Steven Lugerner, an ambitious composer, arranger, and conceptualist who seems to be overflowing with ideas. That impression is only reinforced by his strong new album, For We Have Heard (due May 14 on No Business/Primary), his second session with pianist Myra Melford, trumpeter Darren Johnston, and drummer Matt Wilson. Lugerner used texts from the Book of Joshua in the Torah to title each piece, and he further composed the music by usinggematria, a traditional rabbinical system of assigning numbers to particular words or phrases. In the album’s press materials he writes, “I devised a couple of ways of turning those numbers into music. For instance, if I had a series of five or six numbers, I could stack them in terms of harmony and build chords out of that. Or I could use those numbers in a time signature or meter of music. The numbers could be reflected in the melody or the duration of a note.” But don’t let that dissuade you from checking the actual music out, because this is no theoretical trip—the sounds stand easily on their own, as you can tell from today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “When a Long Blast Is Sounded.” — Peter Margasak Continue reading

Darren Johnston | Fred Frith | Devin Hoff | Larry Ochs | Ches Smith | Reasons for Moving | Not Two Records

Although this is an improvised session it has that wonderful magic glue that these serious and seasoned musicians are so successful at. « Passing Fields » starts with spacious guitar and sax sounds, but soon the rhythm team kicks into a powerful groove. As Frith locks into the rhythm with some bold noise guitar, both horns spin furiously above. Frith sounds a bit like Sonny Sharrock jamming on an electric Miles session. Each piece explores different combinations of players. While « Dawn and the Flat Irons » begins with haunting trumpet and contrabass, soon the rest of the quintet is simmering along. One of the great things about this disc is that Darren’s trumpet and Larry’s saxes work so well together, in similar tonal areas. Fred Frith is the perfect middle man, balancing between the horns and rhythm team perfectly, whether dealing in dark colors and shades or occasionally soloing underneath or with the spinning horns. On a few on these pieces, Frith gets a chance to lead and stretch out and turn the quintet inside-out into a strange twisted (prog ?) rock unit. These pieces fall somewhere between Massacre and Material, yet they are still unique in their own way. Great things, fellows ! — BLG, Downtown Music Gallery Continue reading