Gravitations: Steven Lugerner with Angelo Spagnolo & Fred Hersch


Steven LugernerThere are a couple of new recordings from the excellent multi-instrumentalist and composer Steven Lugerner.  There’s also news of additional music on the horizon for release later in the year.  Let’s begin with the new recordings.

With the first two volumes of his Gravitations series, Lugerner collaborates, first, with guitarist Angelo Spagnolo, and with the second installment, pianist Fred Hersch.  In both instances, Lugerner records the solo improvisations of his collaborator, then, later, records along with the recordings while turning them into brief visions of tunes.  It’s an interesting mix of fresh spontaneity and calculated manipulation.

Here’s how Lugerner describes the events on his site

“The idea is to record the first few phrases or gestures that come out involuntarily, whatever your hands or brain gravitates toward.  I’ll take eight or maybe ten minute-long snippets, transcribe them, and then I orchestrate woodwind parts on top of the original layer.  Sometimes I’ll do an exact orchestration of what they’re doing, and other times I’ll harmonize parts on top.”

Beginning with his 2011 double recording debut of Narratives and These Are the Words, and continuing through his current projects, Lugerner has displayed a talent for meshing with a number of disparate voices, often with the narrow construct of a theme as the doorway to expansive inspiration.  This kind of project is right in his wheelhouse.

Now, about those recordings…


Steven Lugerner & Angelo Spagnolo – Gravitations Vol. 1

Steven Lugerner - Gravitations Vol 1On Vol. 1, Lugerner sticks to the clarinets and flutes, and the way in which their fluttering motions dance to the gentle patter of Spagnolo’s guitar and banjo create a seriously meditative ambiance to accompany the sweet melodicism.

This recording falls squarely into folk-jazz territory, which isn’t much of a surprise as both artists are members of the alt-folk ensemble, In One Wind.  That said, there’s an equal balance between the two influences on this recording, and that decision goes a long way to instilling the potent tranquility that hangs over every note.

Your album personnel:  Steven Lugerner (Bb Clarinet, bass Clarinet, flute, alto flute) and Angelo Spagnolo (nylon string guitar, banjo).

The album is Self-Produced.  Purchase at Bandcamp.


Steven Lugerner & Fred Hersch – Gravitations Vol. 2

Steven Lugerner - "Gravitations Vol 2"The idea for the Gravitations project was, in part, due to some improvisation practices Lugerner learned from pianist Hersch at a Carnegie Hall Foundation workshop.  Vol. 2 charts a different course than the inaugural installment of the series, and yet ends up occupying a similar space.

These, too, are meditative tunes, but as opposed to the patient, soothing melodicism of Vol. 1, the follow-up is far more active, its thoughts racing and delivered in bursts.  But, intriguingly, this is music just as fitting for the quiet moments of the day when the gentlest sounds can fill the entirety of a room… a sort of massive serenity, not overpowering, just ever-present.

Your album personnel:  Steven Lugerner (clarinets) and Fred Hersch (piano).

The album is Self-Produced.  Purchase at Bandcamp.

Lugerner has both albums priced at just a couple bucks each, so between the cheap price and Bandcamp’s ability to choose from a number of file formats, there’s no reason not to go scoop up these enjoyable recordings.

Check out more of Lugerner’s music on his Bandcamp page.


UPDATE:  Steven Lugerner just announced on Twitter that he’s currently working on Volume 3 of the Gravitations series.


Before long, there’ll be another addition to that page…

Steven Lugerner - "Jacknife"This Fall, Lugerner will be releasing Jacknife: The Music of Jackie McLean.  According to his site, he’ll be touching upon early-to-mid-60s works.  Much to my delight, set for inclusion is music from the album New Soil, which happens to be one of two McLean albums that really grabbed me good back in the day.

Listen to a song sample from the album on Lugerner’s Soundcloud page.  There’s more information on the recording on that page, too.

Undoubtedly, there will be more about this recording written on this site down the road.


And definitely check out some of the other words I’ve jotted down about Lugerner’s other recordings on this site.  I believe this LINK should get you to all of them.

Narratives Steven Lugerner - "Live at the Bunker" Steven Lugerner - "For We Have Heard"Chives - "Dads"