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Ex Machina is a new collaboration between visionary saxophonist/composer Steve Lehman and the GRAMMY-nominated Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ). It is a dazzling new work for jazz orchestra that sets a new standard for innovation in the large ensemble format. With compositions by both Lehman and ONJ’s artistic director, Frédéric Maurin, Ex Machina makes frequent use of otherworldly spectral harmonies that are reinforced and transformed, in real-time by live, interactive electronics developed at IRCAM (Institut de Coordination Acoustique Musique). Soloists in the ensemble interact with highly-nuanced harmonies, propulsive polyrhythms, and computer-driven sound transformations to thrilling effect. It’s indisputably one of the most ambitious projects for jazz big band in recent memory.

The new album’s name evokes spectral composer Gérard Grisey’s iconic Tempus Ex Machina as well as Lehman and Maurin’s inspired fusion of electronic sounds with the traditional acoustic instrumentation of a jazz orchestra. In many ways, Ex Machina represents an extension of Lehman’s work with his critically-acclaimed Octet, whose groundbreaking recordings were the first to effectively utilize spectral harmony’s complex sonorities in a jazz context. The Octet's Mise en Abîme (Pi 2014) and Travail, Transformation and Flow (Pi 2009) were voted the #1 album of the year in the NPR Jazz Critics Poll and named the #1 jazz album of the year in The New York Times, respectively. While computer-driven improvisations pervade Ex Machina, it’s still the crack soloists of the ONJ along with Lehman and his long-time collaborators and Octet members Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet) and Chris Dingman (vibraphone) who carry the day.

Ex Machina represents an electrifying new concept for a jazz big band, and continues to position Lehman as a trailblazing artist at the cutting-edge of jazz.


released September 15, 2023


Steve Lehman - alto saxophone, electronics
Jonathan Finlayson - trumpet
Chris Dingman - vibraphone

Members of Orchestre National de Jazz
Frédéric Maurin - direction, electronics
Fanny Ménégoz - flute, alto flute, piccolo
Catherine Delaunay - clarinet, basset horn
Julien Soro - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Fabien Debellefontaine - baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute
Fabien Norbert - trumpet, flugelhorn
Daniel Zimmermann - trombone
Christiane Bopp - trombone
Fanny Meteier - tuba
Bruno Ruder - piano, synthesizer
Stéphan Caracci - vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, percussion, synthesizer
Rafaël Koerner - drums
Sarah Murcia - double bass
Jérôme Nika - generative electronics creation & artistic collaboration
Dionysios Papanikolaou - IRCAM electronics


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Steve Lehman New York, New York

Described as “a state-of-the-art musical thinker” and a "dazzling saxophonist,” by The New York Times, Steve Lehman (b. New York City, 1978) is a composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms.His recent recording, Mise en Abîme (Pi, 2014) was called the #1 Jazz Album of the year by NPR Music and The Los Angeles Times. ... more


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