Steve Lantner Quartet: Given, part 1


Given, part 1


Steve Lantner Quartet


Given—Live in Münster (hatOLOGY 663)

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Steve Lantner (piano), Allan Chase (alto sax), Joe Morris (bass), Luther Gray (drums).

Composed by Steve Lantner


Recorded: Münster, Germany, January 7, 2007


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Pianist Steve Lantner's "Given, part 1" is built around a threadlike structure—a simple set of intervals that can be transposed and invoked by the improvisers at will. If it affects the hearer's perception at all, it does so in a subliminal fashion. That's not to say it doesn’t influence the improvisation. It obviously does, but as a listener, it's hard to quantify. On the other hand, there's nothing random about this music. The effectiveness of Lantner's compositional technique might be questionable (and of secondary relevance, ultimately), but the quality of cooperation among the four superb improvisers is not. Their music is extraordinary. Saxophonist Allan Chase is a master of post-bop techniques whose playing incorporates extreme chromaticism, dissonant intervallic constructs, and extended techniques. Joe Morris can no longer be thought of as a guitarist who plays bass. He's turned himself into an excellent free jazz bassist—quick, imaginative, and precise, with great resources of energy. Drummer Luther Gray is a gifted colorist and an indefatigable presence, attuned to the vicissitudes of collective improvisation. Lantner himself is one of the great free pianists of his generation. He has phenomenal technique, sure, but more than that, he's able to meld jazz feeling with post-tonal harmonic techniques in a way few other pianists can. His group's performance on this—the first of six related episodes on the album—is on a level with the most intelligent, focused, and inspiring contemporary free jazz.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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