Steve Lehman Quartet – Manifold (CF 097)
The quartet record brings a live performance given in the Salão Brazil club in Coimbra, Portugal, with John Hebert on bass, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Nasheet Waits on drums and Lehman himself on alto. Lehman’s love for complex rhythms and curious compositions comes even better to the fore here than on his previous albums. The first track is all rhythmic excitement with a great trumpet-drums intro, and the short second track also has an kind of start-stop feel to it, hectic and calm at the same time, using counterpoint as a key ingredient in this and all other compositions. My favorite track is Dusk, the long third piece, and probably because it is more down-tempo, or because the musicians get more possibilities to improvize. And that’s the real quality of this album, it’s more free than the studio album, it offers more openness, enabling the musicians to demonstrate their musicianship. It’s as a consequence more emotional, and less cerebral than the studio album, and it therefore gets my preference. The only downside is the background chatter of the not always so attentive audience at times, but that’s a minor comment.