Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Gaston Bandimic: vocals; HPrizm: vocals; Maciek Lasserre: soprano saxophone; Carlos Homs: piano, keyboards; Drew Gress: acoustic bass; Damion Reid: drums.
The remarkable alto saxophonist Steve Lehman is always immersed in interesting projects, whether under his own name or working as a sideman.
Last year he delighted us with “Mise en Abime”, recorded with his first-class octet, and did a great job in Liberty Ellman’s “Radiate”. Now he embraces a different adventure, holding on a septet that fuses modern jazz and underground hip-hop. This wasn’t really a surprise for me, since in 2005, Lehman had incurred into more explorative beats, electronics, and turntables in “Demian as a Posthuman”.
For the Sélébeyone project, he teams up with the rappers Gaston Bandimic and HPrizm, who sing in Wolof and English, respectively, and also with the soprano saxophonist Maciek Lasserre, who composed four of the nine tunes. The rhythm section, so fundamental in this urban environment, was entrusted to jazz diggers such as the surprising keyboardist Carlos Holms, who worked with Peter Evans in “Ghosts”, the exemplary bassist Drew Gress, and the exciting drummer, Damion Reid.
“Laamb” opens with a confident attitude, drawing a relentless hip-hop groove decorated with a piano ostinato. The cadenced lyrics are uttered in two different languages while Lehman improvises in his precise, twitchy style.
Both Lehman and Lasserre intercalate their sounds in “Are You in Peace?”, first in unison and then splitting up for another jolt by the altoist. Holms injects keyboard eerie sounds at some point while Gress and Reid remain irreproachable in their drive. This incredible synchronization continues to stand out in tunes such as “Origine”, which causes apprehension through the keyboard effects, and “Cognition”, where Lehman leads the way by throwing in numerous questions and exclamations, pushing Lasserre to the conversation.
Balanced and well produced, "Sélébeyone" opens different horizons for both hip-hop and improvised jazz.
02 – Are You in Peace? ► 04 – Origine ► 05 – Cognitio