Taking Off, Edith Lettner’s Freemotion (ArtDialogue, 2017) www.edith-lettner.net
Edith Lettner- alto and soprano saxophones
Gerhard Franz Buchegger- piano keyboard
Gerhard Graml- upright and electric basses
Stephan Brodsky- drums, percussion
CD review by John Pietaro
Edith Lettner’s music is worthy of a smoke-filled room lost to another age. The saxophonist has been casting her vision of creative music throughout Europe and during frequent, regular trips to New York City for years, tangling horns with some of the best improvisers on both continents, always proving herself as utterly unique, thoroughly gifted. Lettner’s strange and beautiful alto and soprano saxophones offer a vibrato that speaks to jazz of the 1920s and early 30s over a language strictly post-1960. Herein, Bechet swirls through Trane and Dolphy, doubles back to Yellow Nunez, Johnny Dodds and Pee Wee Russell, and then cries and barks like Ornette, moody, drifting, swinging, funky odd-time signatures, sometimes all in one piece. The effect is haunting. And Lettner’s use of modal works stream from her roots in Austria, ancient Germanic motifs concurrently lamentative and joyous.
The album cover of Taking Off is adorned with a raven contemplating flight, and the contents within, like Poe’s raven, are watchful, learned, meditative, melodic and tossed stoically amidst instrumental verse, at once heralding, repetitive and compelling.