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Steve Lehman

Idioma disponível: inglês
Saxophonist, composer, educator, theoretician, and bandleader Steve Lehman is a forward-thinking musician with vast musical knowledge and appetites he applies to rigorously individual conceptions of vanguard and modern creative jazz. He studied with Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan during the late 1990s and Jackie McLean at the Hart School of Music. 2001's free-leaning Structural Fire won positive critical notice. 2005's Demian as Posthuman balanced groove-oriented compositions and electro-acoustic work. 2009's Travail, Transformation & Flow offered a fully realized exploration of spectral harmony with an octet. 2014's Mise en Abîme incorporated live electronics, a custom-built vibraphone, and featured three radically re-imagined Bud Powell compositions. On 2017's Sélébéyone, Lehman drew inspiration from jazz, Senegalese rap and underground hip-hop, and live electronics to deliver an utterly unique expression of urban experimentalism. A slightly smaller version of Sélébéyone issued Xaybu: The Unseen in 2022. Lehman's modernist chamber music is performed regularly by contemporary classical ensembles around the world. Born in New York City, Lehman was introduced to vanguard music and jazz by his mother, who regularly exposed him to the music of artists such as Cecil Taylor, B.B. King, Meredith Monk, McCoy Tyner, Koko Taylor, Morton Feldman, and Betty Carter, and saxophonists Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton. He studied saxophone in high school and earned his B.A. in composition in 2000 and his M.A. in composition from Wesleyan University in 2002. He then studied with Braxton, and concurrently with McLean. In 2001, Lehman released his CIMP leader debut, Structural Fire, and followed it with Camouflage in 2002 with trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr. sitting in. From 2002-2003, Lehman studied in France on a Fulbright scholarship, where he wrote a thesis on the reception of African-American experimental composers in France during the 1970s. In 2004 he released Artificial Light on Fresh Sound New Talent, and the live Interface, recorded the previous year with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Pheeroan Ak Laff. Early in 2005, Lehman, pianist Vijay Iyer, and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee formed the Fieldwork collective and released Simulated Progress for Pi Recordings. The saxophonist also signed a solo deal with the label, and a few months later led an octet for his Pi leader debut, Demian as Posthuman. He joined guitarist Liberty Ellman's group for 2006's Ophiuchus Butterfly; he remains a member. 2007 saw the release of On Meaning, a studio recording featuring an incendiary quintet with drummer Tyshawn Sorey, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, vibraphonist Chris Dingman, and Gress on bass. Fieldwork's sophomore album (with Sorey replacing the always busy Kavee), Door, was released in 2008. 2009's octet outing, Travail, Transformation and Flow, marked the first fully realized exploration of the "spectral harmony" concept in the history of recorded jazz. In 2010, Lehman collaborated with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa on Dual Identity and returned the following year with Kaleidoscope & Collage, featuring two extended pieces performed with bassist/composer Stephen Crump. He released the trio album Dialect Fluorescent in 2012 with bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Damion Reid, and received his doctorate in Music Composition from Columbia University. In 2014, Lehman was presented with a Doris Duke Artist Award and also released the octet date Mise en Abîme. A year later, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship, and served as a featured soloist on Meshell Ndegeocello's and Jason Moran's 2014 Blue Note release, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller. After appearing with Ellman's sextet on 2016's acclaimed Radiate, Lehman shocked the jazz world with Sélébéyone (the word translates as "intersection" in Senegal's Wolof language). Working with rapper HPrizm (aka High Priest of Antipop Consortium), keyboardist Carlos Homs, Gress on bass, Reid on drums, and tenor saxophonist Maciek Lasserre -- a former student of Lehman's who introduced him to Senegal's explosive hip-hop scene in 2010 -- he also recruited Senegalese rap sensation Gaston Bandimic for the date. Engineered by industry veteran and childhood friend Andrew Wright (Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar), the set offered compositions by two highly individual saxophonists, showcasing two rappers in English and Wolof, in a musical collision of cutting-edge electronics, ever shifting, sometimes dislocating rhythms, underground hip-hop, out jazz, and contrasting cultural views (HPrizm, Bandimic, and Lasserre are all Sufi Muslims). The album was praised globally for its revolutionary juxtaposition and integration of seemingly disparate musical genres that reached beyond previous attempts by other artists. The following year, Lehman guested with trumpeter Finlayson's sextet on the album 3 Times Round. In 2019, Lehman released The People I Love, expanding his regular trio with by adding pianist Craig Taborn as a special co-billed guest. This group explored the alto sax quartet tradition from Charlie Parker with Bud Powell through Jackie McLean with Cedar Walton, Braxton's 1980s quartet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, and Kenny Garrett's Songbook group with Kenny Kirkland. Recorded in 2019, Ellman's acclaimed 2020 album, Last Desert, featured a quintet with Lehman, Finlayson, Reid, and Crump. As the pandemic spread, Lehman took on the role of homeschooling his two young children and teaching remotely at California Institute of the Arts. He would set aside an hour each day to work on his solo saxophone repertoire. He recorded every practice session in March and April on his iPhone from the front passenger seat of his car. The end result, an EP titled Xenakis & the Valedictorian, was a gift to his mother on the occasion of her 80th birthday and was later issued digitally through Bandcamp. In August 2022, Pi Recordings released Xaybu: The Unseen. Billed to Sélébéyone rather than Lehman, the album featured a quintet composed of original members sans Gress. The title is a Wolof word that refers to the Muslim concept of "al-Ghaib" -- what is unknowable and unseeable. The sonic meld of angular, funky jazz, industrial and neo-electro textures, powerful, consciousness-raising bilingual rap (lyric translations from Wolof are available on Pi's website), and skittering, crunchy beats all revealed a developed sense of fluidity and familiarity while the group explored spirituality and mysticism through the lens of experimental music.
© Matt Collar & Thom Jurek /TiVo
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