The Portuguese label Clean Feed has for the last few years been a strong advocate for avant-garde jazz, much of it emanating from New York City’s underground scene. Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman is one of many players in its cutting-edge roster, which includes trombonist Joe Fiedler, guitarists Joe Morris and Elliott Sharp, saxophonists Tony Malaby, Rob Brown and Michael Blake, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway.
An imaginative player who has a highly structured approach to open improvisation, Lehman engages his bandmates—trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, bassist John Hebert and drummer Nasheet Waits—in a series of four freewheeling conversations (“Interface D,” “Interface F,” “Interface C” and “Interface A”) along with more highly disciplined fare like the intricate contrapuntal workout “Is This Rhythm?,” the menacing “Cloak & Dagger” and an interpretation of Andrew Hill’s delicate “Dusk” (title track from the pianist-composer’s 1999 recording). Finlayson also contributes his pensive ballad “Berceuse” while Lehman, who studied with alto icons Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, pays homage to another sax hero with some fierce overblowing and solo skronking on “For Evan Parker.”
Recorded live at the Coimbra Jazz Festival in Portugal, Manifold continues down the same uncompromising path Lehman explored on previous outings on Clean Feed, Pi Recordings, Fresh Sound New Talent and CIMP.