------ STEP TEMPTEST ------- reviews "For We Have Heard"

“Multi-reed player Steven Lugerner’s debut recording was actually an impressive 2-CD set, one disk featuring pianist Myra Melford, trumpeter Darren Johnston and drummer Matt Wilson - the music Lugerner created for this chamber quartet was inspired by his study of the 5 Books of Moses, the Torah.  Lugerner creates his music using the system of gematria in which the composer assigned used the number assigned to each Hebrew letter to the chords or the time signature or the duration of each note.”

For Have We Heard” (Primary Records) uses the same system as the previous CD and the same ensemble but this time the pieces are shorter (10 songs in under 33 minutes). The title comes from the Book of Joshua, Chapter 2, Verse 10.  The avid listener probably does not need to know all that while the curious one will look for herself.  What is impressive is the conversational quality of the music and the excellent interaction.  Both Ms. Melford and Mr. Wilson can and do play anything in front of them while Mr Johnston’s crisp tone is a fine foil for the different reeds the composer plays throughout.  Johnston has a touch of Lester Bowie in him which one hears in his short, clarion-blast, solo on “When a Long Blast Is Sounded”, a piece that the drummer displays a forceful style.  Wilson leads the way on"Drove Out Before Us“ - he has the "vocal” part on the first half of the piece.  Lugerner carries the low line on the bass clarinet, adding reed splashes as the song fades.  The driving rhythms push “Be Strong and Resolute” until Ms. Melford’s rumbling piano slows down the song until Lugerner’s soprano carries the melody. Utilizing numerous overdubs, Lugerner creates a woodwind choir on “Before Our Very Eyes” playing the melody in tandem with Wilson’s splendid cymbal work.  The melody line on “All Those Kings” has elements of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seen” but soon the piece moves into a tenor saxophone solo over Wilson’s marching drums. Johnston’s counterpoint weaves in and around the saxophone.  When the piano enters (3 minutes into the performance, Ms. Melford starts playing the bass line before opening up for a just a short while.  The stately melody and drumming have the feel of a song from the Civil War.“

"Though the pieces are fairly short (2 of the 10 tracks barely break the 5 minute mark and 3 are under 1:45), the music is fully realized.  There are several occasions in which Steven Lugerner using studio effects on the reeds or trumpet to create a drone.  ”For Have We Heard" has no allegiance to any one style of creative music but the program remains true to its composer’s unique vision.  Take the time to wend your way through the songs - the reward is in the impressive architecture of the performances.“ - Richard B. Kamins of STEP TEMPEST