New York & San Francisco double and single-reedist Steven Lugerner and his quartet with Darren Johnston (trumpet), Myra Melford (piano) and Matt Wilson (drums) present an incredible concept album in 10 tracks of structure free improvisation.
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Label: Primary Records / NoBusiness
Catalog ID: PR13
Squidco Product Code: 17818
Packaging: Cardstock gatefold foldover
Recorded by Jacob Bergson at The Bunker, Brooklyn, NY on September 11, 2011.
Steven Lugerner-double reeds, clarinets, flutes, saxophones
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• Show Bio for Darren Johnston
"Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter/improviser/composer/songwriter Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists. His interests rotate around composing instrumental music, writing songs, and performing all styles of jazz, experimental and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, and Macedonia.
He has performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as ROVA Sax Quartet, Fred Frith, Myra Melford, Ben Goldberg, Matt Wilson, Mark Dresser, Marshall Allen, and many others.
As a composer, he has written for jazz and/or non-idiomatic improvising groups, big bands, string quartet, and even a multi-generational choir, with songs based on a collection of immigrant letters. He has written for dance companies such as Amy SeiwertÕs Imagery, Deborah Slater, Axis Dance, Robert MosesÕ Kin, Liss Fain, and others, as well as for dance films."-Darren Johnston Website (http://darrenjohnstonmusic.com/)
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• Show Bio for Myra Melford
"For pianist, composer and Guggenheim fellow Myra Melford, the personal and the poetic have always been intimately and deeply connected. Raised outside Chicago in a house designed by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Melford grew up literally surrounded by art. Where most of us find the beauty in our childhood homes through the memories and associations we make within its four walls, Melford saw early on that aesthetic expression could both be built from and be a structure for profound emotions.
Over the course of a career spanning more than two decades, Melford has taken that lesson to heart, crafting a singular sound world that harmonizes the intricate and the expressive, the meditative and the assertive, the cerebral and the playful. Drawing inspiration from a vast spectrum of cultural and spiritual traditions and artistic disciplines, she has found a "spark of recognition" in sources as diverse as the writings of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi and the Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano; the wisdom of Zen Buddhism and the Huichol Indians of Mexico; and the music of mentors like Jaki Byard, Don Pullen, and Henry Threadgill.
The latest incarnation of this ever-evolving cross-disciplinary dialogue is Language of Dreams, which will premiere in November 2013 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The multi-media work is inspired by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy, a history of the Americas told through indigenous myths and the accounts of European colonizers. The piece will combine music for Melford's quintet Snowy Egret with narration by a multi-lingual actor, dance by Los Angeles-based choreographer Oguri, and video by Bay Area filmmaker David Szlasa.
While Language of Dreams is her most ambitious project to date, it is not the first time that Melford has constructed a piece from such a wealth of disciplines. In 2006, the Walker Arts Center premiered Knock on the Sky, a piece inspired by Albert Camus' essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" and Kobo Abe's novel Woman in the Dunes, in which Melford collaborated with New York City-based choreographer/dancer Dawn Akemi Saito and Austrian architect Michael Haberz.
Snowy Egret, Melford's latest working group, made its debut in 2012. The quintet comprises some of creative music's most inventive and individual voices: trumpeter Ron Miles, guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Stomu Takeishi, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Melford's spacious, contemplative, exploratory compositions have long attracted and almost demanded such forward-thinking artists. Her past ensembles have included Be Bread, with Cuong Vu, Ben Goldberg, Brandon Ross, Stomu Takeishi, and Matt Wilson; The Same River, Twice, with Dave Douglas, Chris Speed, Erik Friedlander, and Michael Sarin; Crush, with Takeishi, Vu, and Kenny Wolleson.
Melford also currently is one-third of the collective Trio M with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson; their most recent CD, The Guest House, was one of 2012's most acclaimed releases. She also performs in the duo ::Dialogue:: with clarinetist Ben Goldberg and will release her first solo album in October 2013, a collection of work inspired by the paintings of the late visual artist Don Reich.
Melford's musical evolution has long run in parallel with her spiritual search, a personal journey that has led her to Aikido, Siddha Yoga, and the wisdom traditions of the Huichol people of Mexico's central highlands. Sonically, that quest is expressed via her wide-ranging palette, which expands from the piano to the harmonium and electronic keyboards or to amplifying barely audible sounds in the piano's interior. Her playing can build from the blissful and lyrical to the intense and angular, with accents from Indian, African, Cuban and Middle Eastern musics or the cerebral abstraction of European and American jazz and classical experimentalism.
While Melford's music continually reaches toward a state of transcendence, it still remains deeply rooted in the blues traditions she heard growing up in the Chicago area. In 1978, she first encountered violinist Leroy Jenkins, her introduction to the AACM, whose boundary-free, adventurous approach to jazz remains an influence. She would go on to study with Jenkins, together forming the collective trio Equal Interest with multireedist Joseph Jarman in 1997.
Melford moved to the east coast in 1982 and began performing in New York City's thriving Downtown scene, making her recorded debut as a leader in 1990; she has since released more than twenty albums as a leader or co-leader and appeared on more than 40 releases as a side-person. In 2000, she spent a year in North India on a Fulbright scholarship, immersing herself in the region's classical, devotional, and folk music. Melford relocated to the west coast in 2004, joining the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley as an associate professor of contemporary improvised music. There, she engages students in the theory and practice of improvisation, employing diverse creative strategies.
Her work has earned Melford some of the highest accolades in her field. In 2013 alone, she was named a Guggenheim Fellow and received the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Performing Artist Award and a Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts for her efforts to re-imagine the jazz program at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She was also the winner of the 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music. She has been honored numerous times in DownBeat's Critics Poll since 1991 and was nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association as Pianist of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and Composer of the Year in 2004."-Myra Melford Website (http://www.myramelford.com/content/page/display/slug/biography)
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1. Us And Our Fathers 2:20
2. When A Long Blast Is Sounded 5:07
3. Drove Out Before Us 4:00
4. Be Strong And Resolute 4:57
5. Before Our Very Eyes 1:24
6. Through Whose Midst We Passed 1:44
7. For We Have Heard 4:24
8. Up From The Land 1:28
9. All Those Kings 5:02
10. Our Children In Time 2:09
sample the album:
"As a band leader, Lugerner has released multiple albums to critical acclaim - Narratives (2010) These Are The Words (2010) & Live at The Bunker (2012). His compositions have been described as "a textured, nearly seamless blend of composition and improvisation" by Francis Davis of The Village Voice - while the New York Times calls him "an impeccably trained multi-reedist, with an emphasis on 'multi' - he plays clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, English horn and flutes, along with saxophones..."
While in New York City, Lugerner has fostered contacts, study and collaboration with such artists as: Grammy nominated pianist Fred Hersch; percussionist Matt Wilson, trumpeter Ralph Alessi; pianist Jason Moran; saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom; composer Jamie Baum & percussionist/composer John Hollenbeck. In San Francisco, Lugerner maintains active ties with pianist Myra Melford, trumpeter Darren Johnston & the rest of the Bay Area creative music scene.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Steven Lugerner is the product of a multicultural, artistically nurturing family. In his youth, Lugerner performed on clarinet, oboe & saxophone with college orchestras & professional pit orchestras while simultaneously organizing and performing local jazz performances. In 2006, Lugerner moved to New York City to attend The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where he graduated with honors four years later. Since relocating to Brooklyn, NY in 2010, Lugerner has maintained an active schedule recording & performing throughout the country with ensembles under his own name as well as being a touring member of experimental-pop group In One Wind, jazz-trio-collective CHIVES & post-core quartet killerBOB."-Steven Lugerner website
"Multi-reed player Steven Lugerner's debut recording was actually an impressive 2-CD set, one disk featuring pianist Myra Melford, trumpeter Darren Johnston and drummer Matt Wilson - the music Lugerner created for this chamber quartet was inspired by his study of the 5 Books of Moses, the Torah. Lugerner creates his music using the system of gematria in which the composer assigned used the number assigned to each Hebrew letter to the chords or the time signature or the duration of each note."
For Have We Heard (Primary Records) uses the same system as the previous CD and the same ensemble but this time the pieces are shorter (10 songs in under 33 minutes). The title comes from the Book of Joshua, Chapter 2, Verse 10. The avid listener probably does not need to know all that while the curious one will look for herself. What is impressive is the conversational quality of the music and the excellent interaction. Both Ms. Melford and Mr. Wilson can and do play anything in front of them while Mr Johnston's crisp tone is a fine foil for the different reeds the composer plays throughout. Johnston has a touch of Lester Bowie in him which one hears in his short, clarion-blast, solo on "When a Long Blast Is Sounded", a piece that the drummer displays a forceful style. Wilson leads the way on"Drove Out Before Us" - he has the "vocal" part on the first half of the piece. Lugerner carries the low line on the bass clarinet, adding reed splashes as the song fades. The driving rhythms push "Be Strong and Resolute" until Ms. Melford's rumbling piano slows down the song until Lugerner's soprano carries the melody. Utilizing numerous overdubs, Lugerner creates a woodwind choir on "Before Our Very Eyes" playing the melody in tandem with Wilson's splendid cymbal work. The melody line on "All Those Kings" has elements of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seen" but soon the piece moves into a tenor saxophone solo over Wilson's marching drums. Johnston's counterpoint weaves in and around the saxophone. When the piano enters (3 minutes into the performance, Ms. Melford starts playing the bass line before opening up for a just a short while. The stately melody and drumming have the feel of a song from the Civil War."
"Though the pieces are fairly short (2 of the 10 tracks barely break the 5 minute mark and 3 are under 1:45), the music is fully realized. There are several occasions in which Steven Lugerner using studio effects on the reeds or trumpet to create a drone. For Have We Heard has no allegiance to any one style of creative music but the program remains true to its composer's unique vision. Take the time to wend your way through the songs - the reward is in the impressive architecture of the performances." - Richard B. Kamins of STEP TEMPEST
"The term "concept album" has been used in connection with rock more than it has been used in connection with jazz, and yet, jazz has also given us some classic concept albums over the years. While rock had Pink Floyd's The Wall, Elton John's Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans, jazz gave us such essential concept albums as John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, Charles Mingus' The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior. So concept albums have, in fact, been a valuable part of jazz for a long time. And with For We Have Heard, reedman Steven Lugerner offers a jazz concept album with a Jewish theme."
"For We Have Heard contains post-bop and mildly avant-garde material that was inspired by events in the Book of Joshua, the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible. However, For We Have Heard doesn't depict those events with lyrics, but rather, with melodies, harmonies and improvisation (the album is totally instrumental). And Lugerner pieces like "Up from the Land," "Be Strong and Resolute," "When a Long Blast Is Sounded" and "All Those Kings" have a mystical quality and a highly spiritual feel. Listening to For We Have Heard, it isn't hard to believe that Lugerner was thinking about the Book of Joshua when he wrote these compositions; the CD's spirituality is evident. If a film director decided to make a movie based on events in the Book of Joshua and used For We Have Heard as the soundtrack, Lugerner's compositions would be right at home."
"Thankfully, Lugerner (who plays various saxophones, clarinets and flutes) oversees a team that understands where he is coming from musically and helps him bring those compositions to life. The New York City resident (who is originally from San Francisco) leads a cohesive acoustic quartet that includes Darren Johnston on trumpet, Myra Melford on acoustic piano and Matt Wilson on drums (no bass is used), and all of them are perfectly comfortable with the in- side/outside nature of the album. For We Have Heard, on the whole, is more inside than outside; many of the melodies are accessible post-bop melodies. But when the improvisers do venture outside, they aren't apologetic about it. The dissonance on "Our Children in Time" and "Through Whose Midst We Passed" (two of the disc's more abstract offerings) is dissonance that Lugerner and his colleagues seem to be enjoying a great deal. Melford obviously enjoys the Cecil Taylor-ish moves that she makes on "Our Children in Time." But even on the most free-form parts of the album, Lugerner and his sidemen play with a sense of purpose. For We Have Heard never sounds like the work of someone who is randomly throwing things against the wall and hoping that perhaps some of them might stick. Lugerner, Johnson, Melford and Wilson all sound focused and sound like they went into the studio with a sense of purpose. For We Have Heard is an ambitious, memorable and interesting concept album from Lugerner."-Alex Henderson, Jazz InsideAlso available on vinyl LP.
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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Primary Records / NoBusiness.