STEVE LEHMAN QUARTET – Manifold (CF 097)
An “em vivo” recording of saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman – here on alto and sopranino – is enough to kindle the fire of interest, as what I had heard by him until now elicited a positive response from my neural systems, not easy to satisfy despite this writer’s infinite goodness (just kidding, but hey – one can build an unpaid career upon writing reviews that sound like press releases). In this set, recorded in Coimbra at “Jazz ao Centro” festival, Lehman’s cutting-edge scores are seriously interpreted by Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, John Hebert on double bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. The group sounds compact, but the music grows instant branches by the minute, alternating furious reed assaults – the leader exercising pulmonary devastation in obstinate whirlwinds (“Interface A”) – and spots featuring Finlayson affirming a striking fantasy spiced with a promiscuous evilness that renders the solos a cross of torturing virtuosity and orgasmic frenzy. Hebert and Waits, besides enjoying consistent solo exposures – it happens in every respectable live album – work splendidly within the pieces, both functioning as a classic rhythm section and mirroring themselves in the lake of timbral knowledgeableness, without throwing Narcissus down from the sofa. In a word, they sound great independently from their companions’ omnivorous approach. Lehman closes the show with four minutes of solitary exploration of his instrument’s squealing properties, the definitive stamp on an excellent disc.