(Bio by Rocco Stilo)
Composer, educator and saxophonist Steve Lehman (born in 1978) graduated after having studied under Anthony Braxton, and started his musical career in 2001, creating his Quintet, comprising of John Hebert (acoustic bass), Kevin O'Neil (electric guitar), Kevin Norton (percussion) and Roy Campbell jr (trumpet and flugelhorn). The leader, also on flute, recorded in may 2001 Structural Fire, six pieces mostly free.
The Quintet returned in 2002 with Camoflage and sporting another lineup (Drew Gress on bass, Eric McPherson on drums, Mark Shim on tenor sax and Chris Dingman on vibraphone), then with Artificial Light (september 2003). The Quintet disbanded after On Meaning, recorded in june 2007 with Tyshawn Sorey on drums and Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet.
In the meantime, he created the Camouflage Trio, with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Pheeroan Aklaff. For Clean Feed they live recorded in may 2003 Interface, an album comprising of seven pieces of long free phrasings by the leader, especially the 15-minute Structural Fire, whereas the 19-minute Motion is a following of experimental and ethereal sounds alternating the sax improvisations. In the final title-track (13 minutes) rhythm section has more space.
After having replaced on saxes Aaron Stewart, who founded the project Fieldwork along with Vijay Iyer (they recorded in march 2002 Your Life Flashes), he composed, with Iyer and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee, Simulated Progress (september 2004), eleven tracks quite brief, sporting a natural contemporary jazz; most notable pieces are Iyer's Infogee Dub and Lehman's Durations. The project returned for PI with Door (december 2007), on which Sorey replaced Kavee on drums. The eleven tracks, collectively developped starting from themes composed and mostly quite brief, documented a more mature approach, evident notably in Bend and Cycle I, the longest tracks, composed by Sorey, while the more successful is Iyer's Ghost Time.
Previously, in two studio sessions (march and may 2005), he recorded Demian As Posthuman (PI, 2005), his only album fully credited, on which on various saxes he led Eric McPherson and Tyshawn Sorey (both on drums), MeShell NdegeOcello (bass), Vijay Iyer (piano) and Jahi Lake (turntables and electronics).
His Quartet, along with John Hebert (double bass), Nasheet Waits (drums) and Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), debuted playing in Brazil (may and june 2007) at Jazz Ao Centro Festival, from which were extracted the nine pieces collected on Manifold (for Clean Feed), enlightened above all by the reworking of Andrew Hill's Dusk.
He debuted his Octet in december 2008, when recorded Travail, Transformation and Flow, along with Drew Gress (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums), Mark Shim (tenor sax), Tim Albright (trombone), Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Jose Davila (tuba) and Chris Dingman (vibraphone). The eight pieces, mostly by the leader, reveal a major maturity in composition, as in Rudreshm and the longest piece, Alloy. Particularly in evidence Sorey on Waves. The Octet returned with the same lineup in january 2014, with Mise En Abime, even more collective, dissonant and successful, but also space for more "solos" and rarefied moments, as in Codes: Brice Wassy.
Previously, at Portugal's Braga Jazz Festival (march 2009) Lehman recorded Dual Identity, a collaborative experience with Rudresh Mahanthappa, an "alto sax" duo plus the rhythm section of Matt Brewer (double bass) and Damion Reid (drums), from which were extracted eleven tracks, the more meaningful of which are The General, SMS and Circus (with also Brewer in evidence).
Kaleidoscope & Collage documents an ambitious project along with bassist Stephan Crump. The two recorded two long studio pieces in several sessions (three in 2008 and two in 2009): the 22-minute Terror and the 17-minute Voyages, extracting from them pieces of various lenght (from few seconds to eight-nine minutes), pasted to form collages alternating solos and duets, completely improvised, as they says in credits.
His new Trio, with the same rhythm section of Dual Identity, is documented on Dialect Fluorescent, studio recorded in august 2011, that gathers nine pieces, five by the leader, the others being reworkings. This album sports large solo saxes.
Lehman was one of the ten saxes of PRISM Quartet, an old project created since 1984 by students at the University of Michigan, that in the 2CD set of the notable Heritage/Evolution (Volume 1), studio recorded from april to june 2014, features other four altoists (Greg Osby, Miguel Zenon, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Zachary Shemon), the baritone sax by Taimur Sullivan, the soprano by David Liebman and Timothy McAllister, and the tenor by Matthew Levy and Tim Ris. These twelve pieces present an approach more melodic and compositive, as in the interlacements of the 16-minute I Will Not Apologize For My Tone Tonight, by Mahanthappa, the 9 minutes of The Missing Piece, arranged by Zenon, the 15-minute suite Name Day, by Tim Ris, and the 17-minute Covenant Of Voices, by Greg Osby. The 16-minute five part suite 15 Places At The Same Time is the more experimental track, in which the reedists (isn't easy to identify them...) emerge in turn, rarely performing together.
Steve Lehman & Selebeyone (january 2016) documents nine pieces studio recorded along with Drew Gress and Damion Reid, plus pianist Carlos Homs (already sessionman in Peter Evans Quintet Ghosts), sopranoist Maciek Lassarre (who composed four of the pieces) and vocalists High Priest (Antipop Consortium) and Gaston Bandimic.
After having been sessionman in Vijay Iyer Sextet on Far From Over (april 2017), Steve Lehman dropped now his new Trio, along with pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Damion Reid. They recorded in september 2018 The People I Love (PI, 2019), whose ten pieces, that also feature some reworkings, are extensively presented by the label.