Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Dave Brubeck Rarity Finally Surfaces After More Than Half a Century

It was the night of November 12, 1967 and Dave Brubeck was pissed. He had a sold-out show to play at the Konzerthaus in Vienna and his saxophonist, Paul Desmond, was AWOL.

Desmond’s battle with the needle was an open secret by this time, but he’d always been able to manage his addiction. This time, he’d overdone it – and his bandmates had no idea where he was. This was especially problematic because Desmond was so central to the classic Brubeck quartet’s sound: it meant they’d have to come up with a completely different set and leave out many of their biggest hits.

Brubeck may have been just as worried as he was angry, and whatever the case, the situation lit a fire under the pianist as well as bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. The result ended up being captured on tape. It’s the only known recording of the three jazz icons playing as a trio. Fifty-five years later, it’s finally available and streaming at Spotify.

They open with St. Louis Blues, Morello hinting at a loose-limbed cha-cha before Wright swings the changes and the bandleader works a sardonically phantasmagorical edge. Wright quotes from the Broadway tune I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair in a long, scrambling solo: a sarcastic band-insider joke, as the liner notes allude.

Brubeck picks up on that in One Moment Worth Years and peppers his precisely punchy attack with even more quotes, when he isn’t making Messiaenic modes out of New Orleans riffage: it’s erudite but savage in places. Wright chooses his spots as he works variations on the melody line: vaulted into the spotlight, he delivers.

Morello gets centerstage with an especially exuberant take of Swanee River. By now, everybody’s having fun despite the circumstances, particularly as Brubeck stays focused on playing good cop against some pretty ridiculously vaudevillian drumwork.

He works his way gingerly into a bittersweet, lingering intro to La Paloma Azul, then Morello lures him into understatedly jaunty blues with some steadily misty cymbals. The trio mine the thorny rhythmic complexity they knew well, first waltzing insistently into Someday My Prince Will Come before Brubeck jabs and spirals against the beat. They close the show with a scampering, no-nonsense version of Take the A Train

Unlike untold “rediscoveries” from European tours of the era, the recording quality is excellent

Desmond ended up rejoining the band the following night in Paris – where the group picked up like they never left off, musically at least, and recorded another, completely different live album The Last Time We Saw Paris.

October 4, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dora Pejačević’s Richly Exhilarating Orchestral Works Rescued From Obscurity on a New Album

Dora Pejačević was rich. She was glamorous. She was talented. But she would eventually estrange herself from the medieval castles she grew up with in order to pursue her passion as a classical composer. She wrote some of her most compelling works while serving as a volunteer nurse during World War I.

She foretold her own death at 37.

The Budapest-born pianist and violinist remains a revered cult figure in Eastern Europe but is largely unknown in the west. While other women in the first decades of the 20th century struggled to succeed in the classical music world, Pejačević became the first Croatian composer to write both a modern symphony and piano concerto. There’s an album by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with pianist Peter Donohoe which contains both, streaming at youtube, here and here. It should go long way toward bringing this often exhilarating composer’s output to a larger audience.

Sakari Oramo leads the orchestra in a lavish, towering performance of Pejačević’s Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33 and her Symphony in F sharp minor, Op. 41. This is not subtle music, but for those who gravitate toward toward epic grandeur and High Romantic angst, Donohoe and the ensemble are irresistible forces.

He revels in the unbridled Rachmaninovian crush,, determined flourishes, persistent longing and sharp-fanged chromatics of the first movement of the Concerto. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 2 are the obvious antecedents, and Oramo rolls with that rollercoaster of emotion spiced with deceptively simple textural contrasts: this isn’t merely virtuoso piano awash in strings.

Hushed anticipation and delicately starry glitter interchange in the second movement. Donohoe really gets to flex in the precise volleys and cascades of the third as the composer adds unexpectedly puckish humor and Rachmaninovian triumph. It leaves you breathless.

The dynamics are no less striking in the Symphony. Oramo nimbly negotiating the first movement’s shifts between brassy heroics, a light-footed dance awash in dreamy counterpoint, Dvorakian swells and moments of puffy pageantry.

Searchingly crystalline solos from oboe, bassoon and horn figure pointedly in the second movement, its unease muted but ever-present amidst the swells and foreshadowing: the sheer terseness and purpose of Pejačević’s craftsmanship really shines here.

Movement three, a minuet, echoes Tschaikovsky at his most balletsque and goofy. Oramo holds back on the throttle just a little in the battle scene that kicks off the final movement, exercising similar restraint in the dissociatively reflective, nostalgic succession of scenes that follow. Can’t this war be over, Pejačević seems to ask with more than a little cynicism, as the orchestra finally reach for the rafters.

Both these pieces deserve to be standard repertoire: everyone involved with the project deserves a mention for helping to lead the way.

In case you’re wondering what happened to Pejačević, she died in 1923, a month after giving birth to her only child.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dan Kurfirst Brings His Tranquilly Kinetic, Meditative Grooves to a Perfect Outdoor Spot

Said it before, time to say it again: drummers always pull together the best bands because everybody wants to play with the good ones. Dan Kurfirst is the latest to take centerstage with his new album Arkinetics, streaming at Bandcamp. He’s immersed himself in both Middle Eastern and Indian music, so his beats are especially well informed by touch along with unlimited kinds of boom. He’s bringing this project to the ongoing series of city garden shows on Oct 2 at 4 PM in the space at 129 Stanton St. east of Essex: the lineup includes Rodney Chapman on sax, Alexis Marcelo on keys, John Merritt on bass and Roshni Samlal on tabla. The afternoon opens at 1:30 PM with the tersely propulsive duo of Aquiles Navarro on trumpet and Tchesser Holmes on drums, followed at 2:30 by, pianist Albert Marquès’ Freedom First project featuring the poetry of unjustly convicted death row inmate Keith LaMar, and then at 3:30 singer Lisa Sokolov.

On Kurfirst’s new album, Daniel Carter plays trumpet and winds, with Damon Banks on bass, otherwise the group is the same. A handful of the tunes have samples from mystic and author Alan Watts, reflecting Kurfirst’s longstanding meditation practice and interest in spirituality. The opening number, Peace In is set to a catchy, syncopated piano-and-synth backdrop by Fima Chupakhin, with a voiceover ending with Watts’ observation that “The godhead is never an object of its own knowledge.” What’s your take on that?

A gently churning drums-and-tabla piece sets up the delicately qawwali-tinged Meditation Groove, with balmy Rhodes by Marcelo and trumpet from Carter: Silent Way Miles with delicate Indian tinges. This sets the stage for much of the rest of the album.

The lingering, Bob Belden-esque nocturnal ambience continues, Carter beginning on flute and then switching back to muted trumpet in Birth Beats 1, set against Marcelo’s saturnine glimmer.

Banks’ catchy, loopy trebly chromatic riffage anchors Ghost Killers as Kurfirst and Samlal circle around an artfully orchestrated series of crescendos from Marcelo’s Rhodes while Carter raises the anxious ante with his sax. Dreamscape is aptly titled: with the hypnotic tabla, Kurfirst’s elegant brushwork and Carter’s balmy sax, it could be a Bill Withers backing track.

Kurfirst follows the trippy, shamanic drumscape Two Chants with Not Yet, Carter’s modal sax floating uneasily over Banks’ tightly clustering, catchy bass variations and Marcelo’s spare, atmospheric lines. The group bring the album full circle with a benedictory full-band version of the opening number.

September 27, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Magical, Deviously Dynamic, Cutting-Edge Debut Album From Violinist Sarah Bernstein’s Veer Quartet

Violinist Sarah Bernstein inhabits one of the most magically otherworldly and distinctive sound worlds around. She’s the rare composer who can write catchy, riff-based microtonal music, and she’s also a rapturous improviser. One of the most enjoyable concerts anyone at this blog has been at over the past few years was an afternoon with her intricate Veer Quartet in an East Village community garden in the fall of 2019.

Shortly thereafter, she recorded her debut album with the group: of all the releases which were derailed by the 2020 plandemic, this is arguably the best and is up at Bandcamp. It’s more chromatically focused than microtonal, and it’s the high point among Bernstein’s many and often somewhat more jazz-oriented albums. She and her bandmates – violinist Sana Nagano. violist Leonor Falcon and cellist Nick Jozwiak – are playing the album release show this Halloween at 8 PM at the Zurcher Gallery at 33 Bleecker St. off Lafayette. Cover is $20. And Nagano has a show with her louder but similarly otherworldly Atomic Pigeons band on Sept 28 at 8 PM at Mama Tried in Gowanus.

The quartet open the first number on the new record. Frames No.1 with an irresistibly goofy joke, then Jozwiak racewalks a bassline, Falcon climbs and descends with an uneasy calm. The group coalesce, first with stabbing unison motives that expand into spacious washes, gracefully dancing pizzicato and another couple of ridiculous jokes juxtaposed with bracing glissandos and rhythmic accents. All string quartets should be this diversely funny – and not just when they’re playing Beethoven.

There’s a sense of longing and loss in the second cut, News Cycle Progression, a diptych which begins lingering and resonant and shifts to a series of increasingly agitated, incisive flickers; Bernstein makes a palimpsest out of them at the end.

The group open the album’s big epic, Clay Myth as a ballad without words, Bernstein’s wistful melody over a hazy vamp from the rest of the ensemble. An enigmatic, blues-tinged solo from Jozwiak over circular pizzicato eventually cedes for a tantalizingly acerbic variation on the opening theme. The quartet take it out with a bouncy, tightly ornamented, increasingly biting folk-tinged violin theme and a couple of unexpected detours.

Bernstein interpolates stabbing riffage within an uneasy, steadily crescendoing theme in World Warrior, then the individual voices square off. With its paint-peeling, slithery breaks it’s the closest thing to violin metal here.

The ensemble open Nightmorning with a stern heroic theme, Bernstein quickly disassembling and scattering it to the wind across a vast, mostly vacant lot. A shivery, cello-fueled return, simmering fires bobbing up among slides and misty microtonal harmonies follow in turn, with striking hints of a cheery swing jazz tune. Ligeti’s most haunting work from the 1950s comes to mind: it’s the most adventurous and gripping piece here.

There’s a similarly somber, circling, Bartokian sensibility as well as a furtive Bernard Herrmann passage in the final cut, Hidden, a hauntingly insistent coda. Barring the unforeseen, you’ll see this on the best albums of 2022 page here at the end of the year.

September 24, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zoh Amba Brings Her Thoughtful Intensity to a Brooklyn Gig

Tenor saxophonist Zoh Amba draws comparisons to Albert Ayler, but ultimately she’s her own animal, more influenced by the blues in a JD Allen vein. Isaiah Collier is also a reference point, but where he goes completely feral, Amba is more likely to reach for biting, sometimes acidic Jackie McLean incisions. Amba is leading a quintet with Matt Hollenberg on guitar, Micah Thomas on piano, Thomas Morgan on bass and Marc Edwards on drums at Roulette on Sept 27 at 8 PM. You can get in for $25 in advance.

You can hear a little more than half of her latest album O Life, O Light at Bandcamp – unfortunately, the vinyl of this killer trio session with bassist William Parker and drummer Francisco Mela is sold out. The opening number is Mother’s Hymn: variations on a somber, Birmingham-era Coltrane style theme stripped to its broodingly rustic oldtime gospel roots. Parker bows plaintive responses to Amba’s slow blues riffs as she rises to increasingly imploring intonations. Almost imperceptibly, she takes her blue notes further down toward calm as Mela raises the energy with hypnotic waves of echo effects while Parker fills a familiar role as rock-solid anchor. The interlude where he joins Mela’s vivid splashes against the shoreline is over way too soon The trio bring it full circle in almost fourteen understatedly intense minutes.

The second number, the title track, begins sort of a reverse image with hints of calypso and New Orleans echoes, but it isn’t long before Amba starts with the insistent, trilling motives as Mela builds concentric circles and Parker artfully expands his own modal terrain. Again, Amba brings the ambience back around to a solemn rusticity.

She switches to flute for Mountains in the Predawn Light, pulling back on the attack atop the rhythm section’s slinky chassis. With Mela’s judiciously colorful accents around the kit and every piece of hardware within reach, this is a GREAT drum-and-bass record. There’s also a brief bonus track, Satya reprising the initial theme where Amba cuts loose right off the bat. Finding the perfect balance between melody and squall is always daunting, but these three celebrate that here with purpose and cool triumph.

September 23, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

East First Street Is Positively the Place to Be For Jazz This Sunday

The series of free jazz concerts in Lower East Side parks this fall is an especially good one, and continues into the second week of October. One of the best of the bunch is this Sunday, Sept 25, starting at 1:30 PM with alto saxophonist Aakash Mittal – who’s also scheduled to take a rare turn on clarinet – joined by vocalist Jasmine Wilson and drummer Lesley Mok. Mittal is a beast, a ferociously dynamic improviser who’s immersed himself in both Indian and Middle Eastern music and is not to be missed. At 2:30 bassist William Parker takes a rare turn on sintir, percussion and double reeds alongside Hamid Drake on percussion, which promises to be a good, North African-inspired segue. Alexis Marcelo closes out the night on keys with Adam Lane on bass and Michael Wimberly on drums in the garden at 33 East 1st St.

As you might guess, the artist on the bill who’s most recently appeared on album is Parker: his discography is longer than some books. This could be wrong, but it looks like the latest addition to that body of work is Welcome Adventure Vol. 2, sixty percent of which is streaming at Bandcamp.

The generally august and terse bassist gets off to an unusual racewalking start in the opening number, Sunverified, in tandem with Matthew Shipp’s scampering, sunsplashed piano over drummer Gerald Cleaver’s tumbles and bright cymbals. Daniel Carter’s sax slowly expands from a balmy, anchoring role to biting modalities: lots of outside-the-box playing here.

Track two is Blinking Dawn, Carter blasting through the blinds by himself and having fun with harmonics before Cleaver comes knocking at the door. Shipp punches in hard as Carter’s clarinet floats sepulchrally in Mask Production – a reference to CDC pre-plandemic stockpiling, maybe? Parker’s fluttering and then tiptoeing approach signals Shipp’s equally phantasmagorical stroll. These guys have worked together since forever and this is one of the best things they’ve ever put on cassette (still available at the Bandcamp page!).

The first of the tracks you can only hear on that cassette, at least for now, is Wordwide, which the quartet begin as a lingering nocturnal tableau with Carter on sax, but Shipp is restless and that spreads to Cleaver. The contrast between Carter’s floating sax and Shipp’s elegantly sharp-teethed gearwheels is one of the album’s high points.

The closing number is Da Rest Is Story (good titles here, dudes), Cleaver’s slinky and increasingly animated groove underpinning Carter’s defiant microtonalities as Shipp mines his signature icy, starry modalities. The saxophonist’s mournful circles over the piano’s eerily insistent chime are another of this record’s many attractions – all of which would probably sell more cassettes if everyone could hear them.

September 22, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Lost in Cassie Wieland’s Warmly Enveloping Minimalist Sonics

Cassie Wieland‘s music is purposeful to a fault: if there’s any composer working today who doesn’t waste notes, it’s her. Last night at Roulette, she and a shapeshifting cast of ensembles played a series of recent instrumental and vocal pieces that came across as Radiohead at one-tenth speed – or Sigur Ros playing Anna Thorvaldsdottir, maybe. Either way, it was frequently a night to get lost in.

Space is a crucial component of Wieland’s work: she will often leave a whole bar or more in between calm, minimalist motives. The effect is less suspenseful than simply calming and hypnotic, each a persistent quality in her music as well.

Playing brooding organ loops on a mini-synth, she led a string quartet subset of chamber ensemble Desdemona through the night’s central suite, Birthday. Weiland explained to the crowd that this was not a bday celebration since she’s a January baby: this was the rescheduled date for the performance originally planned for last winter. That month was reflected in the hazy, broodingly drifting second segment, where she sang through a vocoder while the strings built a slow crescendo assembled from the sparest of raw materials to either simple, emphatic chords or close harmonies. There were striking textural contrasts in the opening segment, stark harmonics against the sleekness of the organ. Subtle counterpoint developed as the piece wore on, concluding with a warm lullaby atmosphere awash in comforting, accordion-like timbres. That cocooning ambience persisted throughout the matter-of-fact tectonic shifts of the night’s final number, Home.

Pianist Isabelle O’Connell and vibraphonist Adam Holmes teamed up for equally mesmerizing textures in the concluding pieces in the first half of the program: the former with her steady, glacially paced accents, the latter bowing a glistening, humming, harmonium-like backdrop which he artfully ornamented with the occasional percussive flicker. The two brought the music full circle, to Plutonian Radiohead, at the end.

There were a few moments of surprising animation in that work, as well as in the night’s opening performance by the trio Bearthoven. Pianist Karl Larson let Wieland’s judicious, minimalist chords linger while percussionist Matt Evans alternated between atmospherics and the occasional sudden crescendo, bassist Pat Swoboda bringing crackling harmonics up out of a spare, wintry atmosphere.

The next concert at Roulette is on Sept 22 at 8 PM with electronic sound artists Victoria Keddie and Rose Kallal; advance tix are $25. The memorial concert for the late, great trumpeter Tomasz Stanko on the 18th is sold out.

September 16, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cécile McLorin Salvant Brings Phantasmagoria and Depth to the Blue Note on the 20th

Cécile McLorin Salvant is the most original and unpredictably entertaining jazz vocalist in the world right now. Much as watching a webcast is no substitute for being there, her livestream from the Detroit Jazz Festival about a week ago was off the hook. She’s bringing her richly conceptual, shapeshifting show to a week at the Blue Note starting on Sept 20 and continuing through 25th, with sets at 8 and 10:30 PM. You can get in for $30.

Her latest album Ghost Song – streaming at Bandcamp – reflects her vast, panoramic, insatiably eclectic view of what she can transform into jazz, as well as the unselfconscious depth, existential poignancy but also the phantasmagorical thrills she brings to her music.

She opens the record with a reverb-washed duo take of Kate Bush’s teenage art-rock anthem Wuthering Heights with bassist Paul Sikivie, one part Scottish folk, one part Hildegard von Bingen.

The music gets pretty wild as the band come in with Salvant’s medley of a surreal, shapeshifting, banjo-fueled take of the Harold Arlen swing tune Optimistic Voices juxtaposed with a slow, balmy soul version of Gregory Porter’s No Love Dying. Alexa Tarantino’s wafting flute recedes for Sullivan Fortner’s hovering, distantly gospel-tinged piano over Keita Ogawa’s percussion

Salvant reaches for the rafters with a shivery, rustic blues intensity to kick off her title track, rising from shivery Marvin Sewell blues guitar to creepily cheery Lynchian 50s pop: imagine Carol Lipnik singing something from the Hairspray soundtrack. The girls of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus take over with an aptly otherworldly pavane on the way out.

Another Salvant original, Obligation, begins with a sarcastic, lickety-split Broadway-esque scamper and quickly becomes an understatedly harrowing portrait of what amounts to rape. Fortner gives it an aptly sinister outro. Gordon Sumner’s Until makes a good segue, Tarantino’s flute rising with an eerie tropicality over Fortner’s stabbing syncopation and Ogawa’s elegantly brushy rhythm.

Salvant plays piano, joined by Aaron Diehl on distantly whirling pipe organ in I Lost My Mind, a tersely carnivalesque, loopy mid 70s Peter Gabriel-style art-rock tableau. Diehl switches to his usual piano on Moon Song, a slowly unwinding Salvant ballad spiced with biting Satie-esque chromatics over drummer Kyle Poole’s whispery brushes.

Back at the piano, Salvant follows an increasingly sinister, ragtime-inflected, loopy stroll in the instrumental Trail Mix. The band return for a suspenseful, cynically protean romp through the Brecht/Weill cabaret tune The World Is Mean: what a theme for post-March 2020 hell!

Daniel Swenberg adds lute and theorbo to Dead Poplar, Salvant’s pastoral setting of the text of a metaphorically loaded, embittered letter from Alfred Stieglitz to Georgia O’Keefe. Salvant goes back to wise, knowing, summery 70s soul in Thunderclouds and closes the record with a soaring a-cappella version of the folk song Unquiet Grave, letting the grisly lyrics speak for themselves. It would be an understatement to count this as one of the dozen or so best jazz albums of the past twelve months.

September 15, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pensive, Memorable Album and a Lower East Side Show From Bassist Luke Stewart

One of the best of the ongoing series of outdoor free jazz shows on the Lower East Side starts at 1:30 PM on Sept 18 in the community garden at 710 E 5th St. in Alphabet City. Trumpeter Chris Williams kicks off the afternoon in a trio with Luke Stewart on bass and Cinque Kemp on drums, then at 2:30 there’s an intriguing flute trio with Daro Behroozi, Éléonore Weill and Martin Shamoonpour. Headliner Sarah Manning, one of the edgiest and most potent alto saxophonists of the past decade, plays at 4 with Jair-Rohm Wells on bass and William Hooker on drums.

Stewart’s Silt Trio with Brian Settles on tenor sax and Chad Taylor on drums recorded their album The Bottom earlier this year, although it hasn’t made it to the web yet. Directly or indirectly, the music is often on the brooding and mournful side, steeped in slowly unfolding, ambered blues phrasing, frequently in contrast to a hypnotically kinetic rhythmic drive. The hooks are straightforward and hit you one after the other: dark as some of this music is, this is one catchy record.

Taylor lays down a plinky loop on his mbira as Stewart builds a muted, shivery backdrop in the opening number, Reminisce. Settles enters with his resonant, lingering blues phrases: this diamond is shining like crazy. It’s a great opener.

Taylor’s funky syncopation contrasts with Settles’ resonant modalities over the bandleader’s loopy bass in track two, Roots. It’s akin to a more hypnotic take on what JD Allen was doing with his trio about ten years ago.

The album’s big epic is Angles, beginning with squirrelly flickers from Stewart and regal anticipation from Taylor. Settles builds muted airiness punctuated by detours into extended technique, then indulges in an unexpectedly goofy duel with Stewart. Echo effects over a distant rustle, a little trap-rattling and a solo sax serenade follow in turn.

The trio pick up the pace with the steady, strutting title track, Settles gently choosing his spots with his minor-key riffage. Rapidfire sax volleys over an elegantly tumbling background permeate the next track, Circles. The trio close with Dream House, an unexpectedly straight-up if minimalist swing tune.

September 14, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Motive Force Behind One of This Past Year’s Best Jazz Albums Plays His Home Turf

One of the great things about the ongoing free jazz series happening on the Lower East Side into the first week of October is that it’s an excuse to give a listen to some of the parade of artists passing through. One particularly good lineup is this Sept 17 in the community garden at 129 Stanton St just east of Essex, starting at 1:30 PM with Steve Swell on trombone, Kirk Knuffke on cornet and TA Thompson on drums. At 2:30 trumpeter Jaimie Branch brings her enveloping sound, followed at 3:30 by bassist Larry Roland’s Urban Project with keyboardist Kiyoko Layne, trumpeter Waldron Ricks and Thompson back on drums. Drummer Whit Dickey and alto saxophonist Rob Brown wind up the afternoon at 4:30.

Dickey also figures prominently in one of the most lustrously gorgeous jazz albums of the past year, Village Mothership – streaming at Spotify – with bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp. It’s a shout-out to the three’s East Village home turf via a methodical, often rather dark series of longscale pieces topping out at about the eleven minute mark.

The bandleader throws off playful cymbal flickers as Parker spaciously holds the center and Shipp quickly grows to his usual Loch Ness glimmer as the first tune, A Thing and Nothing takes shape, rising resolutely and steadily, then falling away to the stygian depths Shipp mines so well. A wry but disquieting descent ensues into a Twilight Zone of the piano. You could call much of the rest of this ten-minute joint Webernian swing.

Whirling in the Void is less a spin than a stern, emphatic, occasionally crushing modal exploration, Dickey and Shipp chopping the weeds in an abandoned East Village tenement foundation of the mind. When Shipp starts spiraling, Dickey’s judicious half-tumbles are there to catch anything that might fall.

Nothingness is not a John Cage piece but a defragged version of the previous number, clusters juxtaposed with gentle scrambles and hints of a famous Steely Dan theme, Parker dexterously maintaining various central pulses and finally percolating to the surface.

Dickey opens the album’s title track with a spare, nuanced, suspenseful solo before Shipp’s modalities drive it further into the obsidian; this time bass and drums switch roles, more or less sparingly, midway through. The album’s biggest thrill ride is Down Void Way, Parker’s frantic bowing above Shipp’s murky turbulence and variations on the album’s most memorably unsettled theme.

The closing number, Nothing and a Thing, is the most loosely tethered piece here, infused with a solemn bluesiness but also sardonic humor. It’s a clinic in the kind of enigmatic moodiness these three can conjure.

September 12, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment