Proof that the New York creative scene is still producing great new bands comes in this octet featuring the music of alto saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman.
I first heard Steve Lehman on the album he made with Fieldwork, a cooperative group with pianist Vijay Iyer and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. I was immediately impressed with the movement between composition and improvisation, and the way the trio avoided the head-plus-solos format. Having spent a lot of time listening to that album, I was fascinated to hear that Steve had produced an octet album entitled rather grandly Travail, Transformation and Flow (Pi). For me this was the most exciting album I bought in 2010.. I was really taken with the quality of the compositions and again with the seamless flow between these compositions and the solos plus the rhythmic energy of it all. I think this quote from John Fordham’s Guardian review (July 2009) captures it well:
“His combining of textures, layering of rhythms and mind-boggling juggles with bar-lengths sounds like a Dave Holland band with a rhythm section in hyperdrive.”
The octet includes some of the leading New York players; as well as Steve as leader and alto saxophonist, it has Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Mark Shim on tenor sax, Tim Albright on trombone, Chris Dingman on vibes, Drew Gress on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums.
Mark Shim is a much underrated, but very impressive tenor player who toured UK with Terence Blanchard many years ago; Jonathan Finlayson plays a major role on recent recordings by Steve Coleman and Elements; Drew Gress has toured with many of the most interesting groups in New York, notably various groups led by Tim Berne and Uri Caine as well as an appearance with his own group some years ago at Cheltenham and Tyshawn Sorey has toured UK with John Escreet.