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Steve Lehman’s Otherworldly Octet Music Stands on Bop Tradition

Everything from something

Steve Lehman
Steve Lehman Octet (Lehman: second from right)
Steve Lehman

Even the most singular art has precedents and inspirations. Case in point: the Steve Lehman Octet, which releases its sophomore album, Mise en Abîme, on June 24. Distinguished by abrasive horns, crooked drum grooves, spooky vibraphone and the leader’s sweet but unsettled alto saxophone, the eight-piece-trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, trombonist Tim Albright, tuba player Jose Davila, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, vibraphonist Chris Dingman, bassist Drew Gress, drummer Tyshawn Sorey and Lehman on alto and live electronics-makes fuzzy, funky music that seems to have dropped from outer space.

But three of the tunes on Abîme (Pi) are indebted to pianist Bud Powell, “Beyond All Limits” is partially inspired by the Woody Shaw song of the same name, yet another piece is dedicated to the African drummer Brice Wassy, and fastened to Lehman’s original composition “Chimera” is an arrangement of “Luchini,” by New York hip-hop group Camp Lo.

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