Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dan Lehner's Memory Field Spoken Migration 2013

Spoken Migration cover art

The variety and diversity of improvised music coming out of the Big Apple is simply unmatched any where in the world. While name acts fill the clubs and larger venues on a nightly basis there is an incredible energy from the more Independent acts as they serve as that golden thread to tie the sonic landscape of New York together. The working quartet of Dan Lehner's Memory Field and their latest offering Spoken Migration is a microcosm of just where improvisational music can go and hopefully with Lehner leading the charge.

An unexpected instrumentation includes Lehner on trombone along with Nathan Hook on tenor saxophone, Sammy Weissberg on bass, and Dan Kurfist on drums. At first listen the ear is searching for the piano all most by instinct yet the rhythm section of Weissberg and Kurfist is so strong that for many the piano less 4tet may go unnoticed. Toss in the ability of Lehner and Hook to play as one unified voice and you wind up with a true organic texture and sonic colors you can touch...A cerebral delight.

Technically one would consider a five track release an EP of sorts but with all the tracks right at five minutes or better this plays well with the less is more zen like quality that seems to permeate Spoken Migration at times. "Beneath The Concrete, A Home" is a deceptively aggregate piece that evolves the basic premise of underneath the mass constructed society of today there is an underground refugee of organic bliss that embraces the basic human condition. This tune evokes a subtle dance quality while transcending the slow building spirituality that is born out of this composition. "Diversion" is a quirky all most whimsical riff on the great Ornette Coleman, Hook is magnificent here while the bass line is a running counterpoint encouraging the sonic detours of unexpected rhythms and meters along the way. "All Hail" is a melancholy version of a country waltz telling the tale of a group of men plotting to assassinate a mythical governor from the state of Texas while the lyrical flow is a dynamic tension put forth to mock the contributions of the Governor which are less than appreciated as evidenced by the sardonic undertones.

Over the last three years I have reviewed perhaps a thousand Independent releases from the eastern seaboard with Dan Lehner's Spoken Migration easily cracking the top five in both presentation and creativity.

An eclectic line up performing organic improvisational music set to conceptual themes. A lot to take in during one sitting but well worth the attempt. Dan Lehner's Memory Field are an ensemble to watch!

Tracks: Anarchism in Spanish; Beneath The Concrete, A Home; Tabla Mata / Stablemates; Diversion; All Hail.

Personnel: Dan Lehner: trombone & compositions; Nathan Honk: tenor saxophone; Sammy Weissberg: bass; Dan Kurfist: drums.