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Tonight in jazz: Steven Lugerner's music beyond words

May 25, 2011 |  8:30 am

Lurgerner450 There's something to be said for making an auspicious debut. A Bay Area-born musician who recently moved to New York City and has collaborated with Fred Hersch, Jason Moran and Miguel Zenón, young multi-reedist Steven Lugerner released a double-album in his first recording as a bandleader, the sprawling and unpredictable "These Are the Words / Narratives."

A recording split between two ensembles, the more free-flowing "These Are the Words" will be celebrated Wednesday night at Royal/T. Joined by pianist Glenn Zaleski, Itamar Borochov on trumpet and drummer Max Jaffe, Lugerner will lead the group through pieces based on the Torah's Five Books of Moses.

Recorded with heavyweights Darren Johnston on trumpet, Matt Wilson on drums and Myra Melford on piano, "These Are the Words" found Lugerner employing the practice of Gematria to assign numbers to verses from the Torah and using those as jumping off points for each composition, resulting in knotty, patiently developing pieces that can sound reminiscent of classical music or moodily unsettled free improvisation.

Lugerner will return to Royal/T in July to celebrate the recording's other half, "Narratives," which features his regular septet, but tonight's show has plenty of potential to leave jazz fans speechless.

-- Chris Barton

Steven Lugerner, Royal/T, 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 8 p.m., $10.


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Photo of Steve Lugerner by John Rogers.

[Updated 11:58 a.m., May 25: An earlier version of this post described Darren Johnston, Matt Wilson and Myra Melford as East Coast musicians. Melford and Johnston are based in Northern California.]