Edith Lettner composes music for band projects, film and theater.
In 2005 she founded her own ensemble Freemotion, in 2010 the African Jazz Spirit project in Senegal, and in 2018 the quintet Delight in New York. To all three projects she contributes her own compositions in very special ways.
Edith Lettner’s interests lie primarily in jazz, free improvisation, African music and music from diverse regions in the Middle East. She plays alto and soprano saxophone and duduk, an Armenian woodwind instrument. She very intuitively brings her unique and distinctive style to the cooperation with numerous bands, both during live performances and CD recordings.
Her frequent collaboration with musicians from other cultures and artists from other art genres has made her an incredibly versatile artistic personality.
Techniques: water colors, oil paintings, drawings.
She has exhibited her work in many galleries and venues in Europe, North America and Africa and has staged painting performances in collaboration with various jazz musicians. Her music and painting cross-fertilize each other. Motion, dynamic, intense expression and improvisation form the bridge that interconnects her two artistic genres.
“When it comes to incorporating various ethno-musics – particularly those culled from the African and Middle Eastern diasporas, respectively-then recontexualizing them through the lens of modern jazz and asserting a definitive voice, Edith Lettner has few peers.
The Austrian alto and soprano saxophonist accomplishes the lofty artistic pursuit with graceful ingenuity, as she fronts her longstanding combo, Freemotion. She wields a grainy, vigorous tone on saxophones, and often favors searing melodies that brim with braying and growling dissonance. And while the compositions on Taking Off undoubtedly tilt toward the avant-garde, the music still can swing hard.
It’s on Lettner’s “Treibholz/Driftwood,” the disc’s final cut, however, that it seems as if all of the band’s powers coalesce. Recorded live in Vienna during 2016, the episodic composition features Lettner play ing the duduk (an Armenian double-reed instrument) and alto, as the rhythmic pulse continuously morphs while the ensemble crafts alluring melodicism, virtuosic showmanship and surging emotional warmth.”
– John Murph – Downbeat Magazine, July 2018
This June, 2020 New Adventures update is the first one in 3-4 months. The long delay is due to a number of excellent excuses, none of which I will go into for reasons of brevity and saving face.
Edith and her fellow Voyagers musicians Yacouba Sissoko (kora and vocals) and Banning Eyre (guitar) completed their first studio recording session in mid February. The resulting CD on the Afropop label is now (early June) in the final production stages in Banning’s capable hands.
Edith and electro-acoustic artist and singer Dafna Naphtali are working on the last minute details of their upcoming album of improvisational music, We Q. Recorded at the Doland Studio on the NYU campus in Manhattan, it will initially be released as an online production in a downloadable streaming format under the Danish label, CLANG, with a limited CD release to follow.
When Edith returns to Austria sometime this summer, she and Beate Reiermann (acoustic guitar) will record their first Travel Diaries CD, to be released on the artdailogue label. Theirs has been a long-time collaboration performing all original compositions, and it’s time their wonderful music reached a larger audience.
Following two jam-packed months of gigs, jams and collaborations in New York, Edith traveled back to Austria on March 11 just as the pandemic was heating up. Countries were beginning to limit travel and shut down borders, and all her planned gigs for the spring season in Austria were cancelled. So that we wouldn’t be separated during a lengthy lockdown. she quickly reversed direction and flew to Canada on March 16 where she remains until sometime in August.
The NEW ADVENTURES section was updated June 10, 2020
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