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Steve Lampert: Venus Perplexed

Going back to Guido D’Arezzo (quite a stretch), ca. 950, a hexachord comprised six notes on the diatonic scale, such as C to A. Its modern equivalent can be half a 12-tone row. Having said that, let’s focus on a perplexing release by trumpeter Steve Lampert, Venus Perplexed (Steeplechase), an 11-track suite, plus an additional track Lampert claims is “outside the frame.” Don’t believe it. It contains the same lack of tonal center, same electronic strands, same rock-oriented backbeat, same fascinating unison sounds of Lampert and tenor saxophonist Rich Perry and the same incredible bass lines of Gene Torres. In short, what runs through the entire album is maddeningly skillful. Lampert has scored perhaps 90 percent of all the sounds heard here. Only “Either/Or” allows for intense, bop-flavored solos-beyond the hexachord. But Lampert’s obeisance to his personal music gods (from Schoenberg and Nancarrow through Jimi Hendrix to Miles, Bird and Coltrane) makes for much confusion about adhering to that hexachord. What’s it all about, Alfie?

Originally Published