There’s an overflowing handful — you might say a full, high-contrast musical suite — of reasons to go check out the Steve Lehman Octet this Wednesday evening at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. The first one is Lehman’s compositions, shivery and spinning and hard-nosed, but weirdly fascinating. Then there’s his group: a “little big band” of sorts, featuring eight of the most rigorous young experimenters in jazz, from Tyshawn Sorey on drums to Chris Dingman on vibraphone to Mark Shim on tenor saxophone. Another is this band’s love of texture; Lehman’s alto saxophone sound is thicker and more sawtoothed than almost anyone’s, and when he writes music for an eight-piece band (check out his Travail, Transformation and Flow record) he turns the liquid movement of each element into a perfectly fitting, almost solid structure. Plus, Sorey can spend minutes on end just drawing ringing and washing tones out of his cymbals and toms–a fascinating display.
To the list of reasons to show up Wednesday, add this: CapitalBop is holding a free and open-to-the-public, interactive listening session with Lehman before the show. It’s part of our monthly series, Riffin’: CapitalBop Listening Sessions at the Atlas, in which we watch some of the featured performer’s favorite musical videos, and then let the audience have a direct conversation with the musician. We’ve found that flipping through old YouTube videos can be a great way to start a comfortable, open and enlightening conversation.
We don’t want to spoil anything, but the videos that Lehman has chosen to watch range far and wide (no big surprise there) from straight-ahead jazz to experimental classical. The questions you could ask this New York-born and -bred musician are endless. So get there at 7, bring some curiosity and a question or two (or just come to listen), and then stay until the performance at 8 p.m. and hear a band that the New York Times‘ Nate Chinen praises as “sleek but audacious.”
Schedule of the remaining Riffin’ sessions:
- November 13, 2013: Steve Lehman Octet
- December 19, 2013: Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O
- January 16, 2013: Anthony Pirog Trio
- February 1, 2014: Don Byron Gospel Quintet
- March 19, 2014: Washington Women in Jazz All-Stars w/special guest (TBA)
- April: No concerts
- May 10, 2014: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Wednesday’s Riffin’ session with Steve Lehman at the Atlas Performing Arts Center begins at 7 p.m., and entry is free. The Steve Lehman Octet performs at 8 p.m. Tickets to the concert cost $28.50 in advance, or $33.50 at the door, and can be purchased here. More information is available here.