STEVE LANTNER TRIO
Blue Yonder

NATURAL HISTORY
Fur

[Skycap, www.skycap.de]


Boston native, pianist Steve Lantner unleashes his knowledge for improvisation on his latest trio outing "Blue Yonder". Along with bassist [guitarist] Joe Morris [a constant on both discs] and drummer Luther Gray, he runs the scale between all-out improvised pieces and those that actually sound written [even though the credits clearly state all compositions are improvised]. His technique varies from track to track but one common denominator that sticks are the clusters that somehow always find their way into the music. While he's free on the keyboard and seems to treat it almost like a percussion set, Steve has a certain knack for making things sound lovely and strangely romantic. Perhaps lyrical is a better word. No matter who you compare Steve's playing to [pre-Blue Note Cecil Taylor was one comparison, though I don't think it sticks well], he ultimately comes out on top as his own self. Bassist [sometime guitar player] Joe Morris, along with percussionist Luther Gray act as ideal companions. Clusters that are so evident feel somewhat lighter when the rhythm section breaks things down in non-linear fashion. For the most part, these aren't overtly melodic or hummable pieces, which makes the proceedings all the more enjoyable. Repeat listens are highly rewarding.

Bassist / guitarist Joe Morris decided to pick up the bass as a choice of instrument only about five years ago. Now, he surprises and delights with the release of his new Natural History Trio and the resulting recording "Fur". In fact, while Natural History seems to be Joe Morris' vehicle, it is actually tenor player Joe Sexton who steals the show. Morris is splendidly at home with swinging and rhythmic bass lines. Everywhere, there are fine instances of Morris being somehow less guttural and more lyrical. Maybe it's the change-over to his new instrument? Listen to his extended solo on the title track for an example of what this man has learned on the instrument over the last few years. Tenor saxophonist Joe Sexton is all fire without actual full frontal attacks. Morris in fact does as much as he can to ground Sexton's restless playing. Percussionist Croix Galipault gives sparse work on most of the tracks. In fact, many times I found him missing from the picture altogether [as Morris plays with Sexton in duo so often], when he's present, I don't find he adds much to the overall scenery of the music. Natural History is an interesting trio that will now have the challenge of making their next record as good as their debut.

- Tom Sekowski


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+ 31 KNOTS - Talk Like Blood / HEADLIGHTS - The Enemies
+ AVAILABLE JELLY - Bilbao Song
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+ HALF-HANDED CLOUD - Halos & Lassos / LIZ JANES - Liz Janes & Create(!)
+ HISATO HIGUCHI - 2004 11 2005 4 / She
+ DINOSAUR - Dinosaur Jr. / DINOSAUR JR. - You're Living All Over Me / Bug
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+ MARGO - Furtives Furies
+ IBRAHIM FERRER - Ay, Candela / RUBEN GONZALEZ - Momentos
+ KEVIN AYERS - The BBC Sessions 1970 - 1976
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+ ZION TRAIN - Natural Wonders of the World in Dub
+ O - Numero 0 / THE TELESCOPES - #4
+ sunnO))) - Black One / OREN AMBARCHI - Triste
+ ZE EDUARDO / JACK WALRATH QUARTET - Bad Guys / MICHAEL ATTIAS - Credo / JOE FIEDLER TRIO - Plays the Music of Albert Mangelsdorff / BERNARDO SASSETTI TRIO 2 - Ascent

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