The Squid's Ear Magazine


Lehman, Steve / Selebeyone: Xaybu: The Unseen (Pi Recordings)

An urgent album of modern jazz, underground urban and electronic music, from the international collective of MCs HPrizm (NYC) & Gaston Bandimic (Dakar), saxophonists Steve Lehman (Los Angeles) & Maciek Lasserre (Paris) and drummer Damon Reid, exploring Islamic mysticism of al-Ghaib with the voices of Billy Higgins and Jackie McLean heard throughout the album.
 

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Gaston Bandimic-vocals

Hprizm-vocals

Steve Lehman-alto saxophone

Maciek Lasserre-soprano saxophone

Damion Reid-drums


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UPC: 808713009521

Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: Pi 95
Squidco Product Code: 32233

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Xaybu: The Unseen is the highly-anticipated sophomore release from Sélébéyone, the international avant-rap collective comprised of MCs HPrizm (New York City) and Gaston Bandimic (Dakar), and saxophonists Steve Lehman (Los Angeles) and Maciek Lasserre (Paris). Described as "legitimately new" and a "revelation" by Pitchfork, the group's eponymous 2016 debut was hailed as a game-changing synthesis of . On Xaybu, Sélébéyone - which means "intersection" in Wolof - continues to build on its groundbreaking work with shifting rhythms and state-of-the art sound design, now with a newfound sense of effortless fluidity. The result is a profound musical statement that deftly explores spirituality and mysticism through the lens of experimental music.

The word "xaybu" in Wolof refers to the concept in Islamic mysticism of al-Ghaib - that which is unknowable and unseeable. HPrizm, Gaston Bandimic, and Maciek Lasserre are all Sufi Muslims, and that spiritual connection and sense of abandon and giving in to the unknown has been a cornerstone of the group since its inception. The Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty is heard on the track "Djibril" describing his creative process, which directly reflects Sélébéyone's own artistic ethos:

It's very simple. You must close your eyes.
Have you closed your eyes?
You see points of light. Close them tightly.
Each time that you want to see the light, you must close your eyes.

(Translated from French)

Throughout the album, the voices of master musicians like Billy Higgins (on "Gagaku") and Jackie McLean ("Go In") - both of whom converted to Islam - are heard speaking to the complex relationship between their spiritual and creative practices. The nuance of those connections is reflected in the otherworldly sonorities and intricate compositional structures that permeate the record. Nearly unheard of for projects of this scope, Lehman and Lasserre not only handle all of the instrumental writing, but also every aspect of the production on their respective pieces, including drum programming, sampling, and overall sound design. The result is an unprecedented integration of complex compositional forms, pre-recorded samples, and electronic sounds. And after multiple tours throughout the United States and Europe, the group has also cultivated a repertoire of hard-won performance strategies that make radical shifts in tempo and texture feel organic and inevitable.

An award-winning saxophonist and composer, Lehman - who holds a doctorate in composition from Columbia University - is widely celebrated for his "sure-footed futurism" (New York Times) in the domains of modern jazz and contemporary classical music. Here, he showcases yet another side of his astonishing creativity in producing and overseeing nearly every aspect of Xaybu. The project makes frequent use of advanced compositional techniques and cutting-edge improvisation: Each aspect of Lehman's musical identity is an inextricable part of this artistic statement. Pulling this off requires enormous trust and commitment among the musicians, which is only possible through Lehman's longstanding musical relationship with the members of the group. HPrizm (a.k.a. High Priest), a legend of New York's underground hip-hop scene and a founding member of Antipop Consortium has been one of Lehman's closest collaborators for almost two decades. Saxophonist Maciek Lasserre, began studying with Lehman in 2005 and introduced him to the burgeoning Senegalese hip-hop scene in 2010. Lasserre later urged Lehman to include Gaston Bandimic - one of Senegal's most distinctive young rap stars - as a founding member of Sélébéyone. Drummer Damion Reid has also been an integral member of Lehman's ensembles since 2006. His innovative drum set adaptations of J-Dilla beats on Robert Glasper's In My Element (2007), are often cited as the beginning of the "drum set as MPC" wave amongst the current generation of young drummers. True to form, Reid's playing on Xaybu is remarkably adept at moving back and forth between electronic and acoustic textures - check out his work with brushes at the beginning of "Dual Ndoxol." Pieces like "Gagaku," "Zeraora," and "Gas Akap" highlight Reid's improvised interactions with both saxophonists in a series of explosive duets.

Tracks like "Djibirl" and "Lamina" feature unconventional sonic landscapes that throw HPrizm and Bandimic's searing lyricism into relief. Both integrate contemporary notions of Islamic mysticism into their rhyme schemes, and frequently mine profound connections between spirituality and artistic practices. On "Liminal" they calmly navigate a meticulously-crafted quagmire of polyrhythms and Lehman's characteristic razor-sharp saxophone lines. Percussive accents drift in and out of time, ebbing and flowing one moment, and snapping into the grid the next. On "Souba," Lehman's experience in the contemporary classical music realm comes to the fore, with the subtle orchestration of harp, strings, flutes, and percussion, deftly shadowing the rhythmic nuance of Gaston's rapid-fire verses.

Lehman reflects on the evolution of Sélébéyone: "When we first came together in 2016, I think we really had to work hard to see if this thing could even work, not just in terms of finding a way to perform together on stage, but even the artistic viability of it all. But, this time around, it really felt like we already know how to do this and we know what we're about. And for that reason, there was very little discussion about how we were going to bring the second record to life. And even the guiding principle of xaybu/al-Ghaib emerged almost on its own. That fascination with the invisible, the imperceptible, the kind of concealed elements of spirituality and creativity is what really ties us all together. And I think this album kind of represents that on-going search for music that we haven't heard before and that doesn't sound like anything else."


Artist Biographies

Hprizm/High Priest of the Antipop Consortium is a NYC based-composer, producer and performer - Prizm's beat driven compositions have been presented globally in over 50 countries and performed alongside the likes of Public Enemy, Radiohead, The Roots and More.

5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Described as "a state-of-the-art musical thinker" and a "dazzling saxophonist," by The New York Times, Steve Lehman (b. New York City, 1978) is a composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms. Lehman's pieces for large orchestra and chamber ensembles have been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), So Percussion, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, the JACK Quartet, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and the Talea Ensemble. His recent recording, Mise en Abîme (Pi, 2014) was called the #1 Jazz Album of the year by NPR Music and The Los Angeles Times. And his previous recording, Travail, Transformation & Flow (Pi, 2009), was chosen as the #1 Jazz Album of the year by The New York Times.

The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, Lehman is an alto saxophonist who has performed and recorded nationally and internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Meshell Ndegeocello, and High Priest of Anti-Pop Consortium, among many others. His recent electro-acoustic music has focused on the development of computer-driven models for improvisation, based in the Max/MSP programming environment. Lehman's work has been favorably reviewed in Artforum, Downbeat Magazine, The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Wire, and on National Public Radio, the BBC, and SWR.

As a Fulbright scholar in France during the 2002-2003 academic year, Lehman began researching the reception of African-American experimental composers working in France during the 1970s. His article in the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation, "I Love You with an Asterisk: African-American Experimental Composers and the French Jazz Press, 1970-1980," is based on his Fulbright research. More recently, Lehman has published writings and presented lectures on a wide range of topics, including jazz pedagogy, rhythm cognition, and European notions of American experimentalism. His current scholarship, including a forthcoming contribution to the Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music, examines the overlapping histories of spectral composition and jazz improvisation.

Lehman received his B.A. (2000) and M.A. in Composition (2002) from Wesleyan University where he studied under Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard, and Alvin Lucier, while concurrently working with Jackie McLean at the Hartt School of Music. He received his doctorate with distinction in Music Composition from Columbia University (2012), where his principal teachers included Tristan Murail and George Lewis.

Lehman has taught undergraduate courses at Wesleyan University, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, New School University, and Columbia University, and has presented lectures at Amherst College, UC Berkeley, The Berklee School of Music, The Banff Centre, The Royal Academy of Music in London, and IRCAM in Paris, where he was a 2011 research fellow.

Beginning in September 2016, Lehman will join the music faculty at The California Institute of the Arts."

-Steve Lehman Website (http://www.stevelehman.com/bio)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"A musician with a unique creativity, Maciek Lasserre emerged onto the Paris scene and internationaly playing with contemporary jazz and experimental hip-hop projects."

-Maciek Lasserre MCK Project Bandcamp page 5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Damion Reid hailing from West Covina, California a city east of Los Angeles. He is the son of well-respected bassist and astute operatic singer and teacher. By the age of three, Damion was already playing in church. It was around the age of twelve that Damion began being mentored by the world-renowned drummer Billy Higgins. During these formative years Billy's spirit for life and music was deeply seeded in Damion's fertile mind. Seeing Damion's ability to grasp the music both, analytically and conceptually it wasn't long before Billy invited him to be a part of his drum collective. As he began to mature musically he found himself frequenting Billy's club "The World Stage," learning and playing with the likes of Billy Childs, George Bohanon and Oscar Brashear.

As Damion continued to cultivate his love for music through his high school years, he managed school life with professional obligations. Damion graduated High School and made the move to Boston, Massachusetts New England Conservatory of Music where he spent time with Cecil McBee, Danilo Perez, Fred Buda and George Russell as well as his musical peers. It was while in Boston between the years of 1998 and 1999 that he received the prestigious Alan Dawson scholarship. He then was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California. Soon finding himself trekking to New York City to attend The New School. He then began performing and touring alongside Greg Osby, Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Jacky Terrasson, Ravi Coltrane, Reggie Workman, Marcus Belgrave, Lauryn Hill, Robert Hurst, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, Mark Shim, Mark Turner, Chihiro Yamanaka, Steve Coleman, Bunky Green and many others."

-Damion Reid Website (http://www.damionreid.com/damionreid.com/biography.php)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Time Is The First Track 1:28

2. Djibril 3:57

3. Lamina 4:38

4. Gas Akap 2:58

5. Liminal 6:16

6. Gagaku 6:20

7. Poesie I 3:37

8. Poesie II 1:44

9. Go In 2:50

10. Navigation 3:26

11. Dual Ndoxol 2:56

12. Dual HP 1:48

13. Zeraora 3:34

14. Souba 2:01

15. Time Is The First Track 4:25

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic
Unusual Vocal Forms
Spoken Word
Quintet Recordings
Pi Records
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
New in Improvised Music
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