One misperception about jazz, insidious enough to be shared by many of its proponents, is that the music adheres to a rigid code. But like any language, jazz accommodates mutation; it’s subject to the whims of usage. That doesn’t mean the music must respond to every new signal, but it does mean there’s still a place for substantive innovation.
Steve Lehman, a studiously intense alto saxophonist and composer, brought these issues to the fore at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday night. He was leading his octet, the same group featured on a staunchly contemporary new album, “Travail, Transformation and Flow” (Pi). As on the album, his compositions proposed a whorl of luminous dissonance and off-kilter propulsion, suggesting trace fragments of electronic dance music. They also recalled the more adventurous strains of 1960s postbop, in spirit if not in style.
The set opener was “Rudreshm,” Mr. Lehman’s nod to a fellow saxophonist, Rudresh Mahanthappa. Beginning with a ghostly waft of chords tolled by Chris Dingman on vibraphone, it then took on an intertwining sax overlay by Mr. Lehman (on alto) and Jeremy Viner (tenor). Before long the bassist Drew Gress and the tuba player Jose Davila joined the fray, followed by the drummer Tyshawn Sorey and finally the rest of the band.