Last summer I previewed a concert by an excellent New York jazz trio called Chives
, led by the reedist Steven Lugerner
, an ambitious composer, arranger, and conceptualist who seems to be overflowing with ideas. That impression is only reinforced by his strong new album, For We Have Heard
(due May 14 on No Business/Primary), his second session with pianist Myra Melford, trumpeter Darren Johnston, and drummer Matt Wilson. Lugerner used texts from the Book of Joshua in the Torah to title each piece, and he further composed the music by using gematria
, a traditional rabbinical system of assigning numbers to particular words or phrases. In the album's press materials he writes, "I devised a couple of ways of turning those numbers into music. For instance, if I had a series of five or six numbers, I could stack them in terms of harmony and build chords out of that. Or I could use those numbers in a time signature or meter of music. The numbers could be reflected in the melody or the duration of a note." But don't let that dissuade you from checking the actual music out, because this is no theoretical trip—the sounds stand easily on their own, as you can tell from today's 12 O'Clock Track
, "When a Long Blast Is Sounded."
Lugerner is playing a free solo show along with Chicago native and regular collaborator Jonah Parzen-Johnson Friday night at 7:30 PM at Transistor.