The Orchestre National de Jazz and IRCAM present Ex Machina, a creation conceived by the American saxophonist Steve Lehman and Frédéric Maurin, artistic director of the ONJ. Both have proposed material that has been widely praised as music that has inventive forms, with sophistication in its palettes of timbres, and elaborate patterns in which the music can be played, notably the manner in which the soloist integrates into the construction of the different pieces they have written.
Their shared ambition to go beyond traditional orchestral limits has particularly fostered their strong interest in the theories of spectral music, a contemporary practice notably represented by such French composers as Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail. Based on the decomposition of the music’s acoustic properties, spectral music has allowed the emergence of new composing principles and orchestration techniques, notably in microtonal compositions that favor merged perceptions of the timbres, revolutionizing the impressions that can emanate from orchestral works.
This project is the result of a collaboration with the Musical Representations team at IRCAM, headed by Gérard Assayag, and explores for the first time the possibilities of interaction between the instrumentalists and the machine within a large jazz orchestra; the computer becomes a generator of electronic orchestrations for the composers and an improvisation partner for the musicians.
Presented in February 2022 at the 32nd Festival Présences de Radio France and then at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, this program, which also welcomes two of Steve Lehman’s partners, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and vibraphonist Chris Dingman, proposes a journey with a musician who symbolizes the most vivid and daring inventions that today’s jazz has to offer.