Mise en Abîme is the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2009 s Travail, Transformation and Flow, by the Steve Lehman Octet. Described as a 'breathtaking accomplishment' by The New York Times,Travail was widely hailed as a groundbreaking synthesis of spectral harmony and jazz improvisation. On Mise en Abîme, Lehman continues to build on his work with spectral harmony expanding the harmonic palette by incorporating live electronics and a custom-built vibraphone while at the same time reinforcing his connection to the jazz tradition with three radically re-imagined Bud Powell compositions. The result is an album that solidifies Lehman s status as a visionary composer with powerful new ideas about the future of harmony, rhythm, compositional form, and electro-acoustic improvisation in jazz.
5 / 5 ***** With Travail, Transformation and Flow in 2009, the US saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman showed how natural his jazz and contemporary classical researches particularly into microtonal "spectral harmony" techniques could sound. Five years later comes a follow-up that adds live electronics, and three interpretations of pieces by late bebop-piano pioneer Bud Powell. Lehman's octet (again including such virtuosi as trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tyshawn Sorey) sounds both mathematically measured and as raucous as a New York street on Segregated and Sequential, both adrift and anchored on the spooky 13 Colors, and stately and tail-chasingly animated on Powell's Glass Enclosure. It's lost in space on Parisian Thoroughfare, jazzily horn-hooting on Codes: Brice Wassy, and shiveringly sepulchral and then brightly swinging over Gress's muscular bass on Autumn Interlude. 'A blast of urban futurism' was how the New York Times described Lehman's earlier work, adding that it was 'hypnotic, kinetic and kaleidoscopic and funky'. Remarkably, Mise en Abîme raises the bar on all that. --The Guardian