"For We Have Heard" reviewed by Alex Henderson of Jazz Inside Magazine

“The term “concept album” has been used in connection with rock more than it has been used in connection with jazz, and yet, jazz has also given us some classic concept albums over the years. While rock had Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Elton John’s Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Yes’ Tales from Topographic Oceans, jazz gave us such essential concept albums as John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and Return to Forever’s Romantic Warrior. So concept albums have, in fact, been a valuable part of jazz for a long time. And with For We Have Heard, reedman Steven Lugerner offers a jazz concept album with a Jewish theme.”

“For We Have Heard contains post-bop and mildly avant-garde material that was inspired by events in the Book of Joshua, the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible. However, For We Have Heard doesn’t depict those events with lyrics, but rather, with melodies, harmonies and improvisation (the album is totally instrumental). And Lugerner pieces like “Up from the Land,” “Be Strong and Resolute,” “When a Long Blast Is Sounded” and “All Those Kings” have a mystical quality and a highly spiritual feel. Listening to For We Have Heard, it isn’t hard to believe that Lugerner was thinking about the Book of Joshua when he wrote these compositions; the CD’s spirituality is evident. If a film director decided to make a movie based on events in the Book of Joshua and used For We Have Heard as the soundtrack, Lugerner’s compositions would be right at home.”

“Thankfully, Lugerner (who plays various saxophones, clarinets and flutes) oversees a team that understands where he is coming from musi- cally and helps him bring those compositions to life. The New York City resident (who is originally from San Francisco) leads a cohesive acoustic quartet that includes Darren Johnston on trumpet, Myra Melford on acoustic piano and Matt Wilson on drums (no bass is used), and all of them are perfectly comfortable with the in- side/outside nature of the album. For We Have Heard, on the whole, is more inside than outside; many of the melodies are accessible post-bop melodies. But when the improvisers do venture outside, they aren’t apologetic about it. The dissonance on “Our Children in Time” and “Through Whose Midst We Passed” (two of the disc’s more abstract offerings) is dissonance that Lugerner and his colleagues seem to be enjoying a great deal. Melford obviously enjoys the Cecil Taylor-ish moves that she makes on “Our Children in Time.” But even on the most free-form parts of the album, Lugerner and his sidemen play with a sense of purpose. For We Have Heard never sounds like the work of someone who is randomly throwing things against the wall and hoping that perhaps some of them might stick. Lugerner, Johnson, Melford and Wilson all sound focused and sound like they went into the studio with a sense of purpose. For We Have Heard is an ambitious, memorable and interesting concept album from Lugerner.”