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Steve Lehman: Dialect Fluorescent

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The picture most often drawn of the modern jazz landscape is one of schism, a split between heart and head. On the one hand are the traditionalists, keeping the flame of swing and standards burning; on the other the intellectuals, rejoicing in complexity, hybridity, the shock of the new. On his new trio CD, saxophonist-composer Steve Lehman makes a spirited argument against the artificiality of that supposed divide, offering a passionate set that bridges fervid emotion and stunning complexity.

Given his studies with avant-gardists like Anthony Braxton and Tristan Murail, his explorations of little-understood theoretical constructs like spectral harmony, his use of higher-order rhythms and melodies seemingly penned on graph paper, Lehman could be seen as the poster child for the intellectual-jazz set.

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