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Steve Lantner Trio: Blue Yonder

Blue Yonder is a tour de force for Boston-area pianist Steve Lantner. His range is vast, covering most strains of jazz-based improvisation as well as an unusually broad knowledge of techniques lifted from European-derived art music. He swings like a madman and abstracts like a mutha. Throw in a huge imagination, and you’ve got a tremendous piano player.

Of course, he doesn’t do it alone on this CD. He’s got a simpatico rhythm section to help him along. The intricate, intertwining rhythms of drummer Luther Gray and guitarist-gone-bassist Joe Morris coalesce with the pianist’s catholic sensibility to form an affecting whole. On the downside, Morris is kind of a modern-day Tommy Potter, Charlie Parker’s bassist on those old Dial and Savoy sides: He gets a small, nearly staccato sound out of the instrument. He compensates by having decent time, impressive facility and nice ideas. Still, I prefer (with apologies to David St. Hubbins) a big bottom. My previous exposure to Lantner was through his microtonal work, several years ago. That was OK, but this is on a different–much higher–level.

Originally Published