Cooper-Moore/Tom Abbs/Chad Taylor: Triptych Myth (2003)
An enigmatic performer whose style encompasses everything from boogie woogie to avant jazz, pianist/composer Cooper-Moore joins his trio to deliver a diverse set with Triptych Myth that still, somehow, manages to maintain an integrity and clear direction in sound.
Aside from being a pianist and composer, Cooper-Moore is an educator and creator of musical instruments. His performances are true audience experiences; along with the performance, the audience may find themselves involved in the creation of a new musical instrument from found objects; listening to the band learn a new piece; and performing, with the band, in a tubular bells ensemble. The same sense of adventure, diversity and experimentation that Cooper-Moore brings to the stage, he has managed to recreate on Triptych Myth.
“Stem Cell” opens the set in a free vein, with an aggressive approach that brings to mind the best of Cecil Taylor. “Nautilus” is a more spacious tone poem, with drummer Chad Taylor flitting lightly around the drum kit while Cooper-Moore and bassist Tom Abbs begin with an ostinato figure that slowly broadens into a more thorough investigation.
“The Fox” is a reggae-informed tune that showcases Cooper-Moore’s eschewing of the more traditional grand piano, rather going for a more barrel-house sound on upright. “Spatter Matter” is best described as avant swing, with its walking bass line supporting a bodacious improvisation from Cooper-Moore, which somehow manages to bridge the gap between ragtime and totally free playing.
“Harare” is a showcase for Taylor, who, while capable of more bombastic displays, truly constructs a musical piece on the kit. Cymbals are used to provide shading; a rhythm is delivered with brushes, introducing a minimalist-sounding thumb piano under which Taylor carefully and gradually builds the intensity. “Raising Knox” provides an opportunity for Abbs to demonstrate his own style, which combines the more aggressive chordal sound of Barre Phillips with a deep-down groove that could only come from Mingus.
The set closes with “Susan,” which begins with a modal motif revolving around fourths that could easily fit into a McCoy Tyner set list; before things get too comfortable, however, it introduces a dissonant piano ostinato over which Abbs solos with commitment; things break down into a free improv, with all members pushing and pulling before returning to the modal theme of the introduction, over which Cooper-Moore delivers an ambitious time-spanning solo.
This is, in fact, one of the strongest characteristics of the trio: its ability to bridge the gaps between various improvisational styles; reverential to a degree, but always forward-thinking in the way that the members find the threads between them. Triptych Myth challenges the preconception that jazz has been compartmentalized into a number of musical boxes. This album erases the lines between the boxes and creates, instead, a more rewarding broader expanse; a backdrop where, in the words of William S. Burroughs, “everything is permitted.”
For more information, visit www.hopscotchrecords.com .
Track Listing: Stem Cell; Nautilus; The Fox; Stop Time #1; Ricochet; Harare; Stop Time #2; Raising Knox; Spatter Matter; Stop Time #3; Spencer's Eyes; Susan
Personnel: Cooper-Moore (piano), Tom Abbs (bass), Chad Taylor (drums)