Soren Kjaergaard: Optics (2008)
Throughout the recording the balance and blurring of the composed and improvised is splendidly accomplished. Drummer Andrew Cyrille is arguably best known for his explosive work with Cecil Taylor starting in the 1960s. Street, much younger than Cyrille, has been involved with a slightly calmer improvising scene that includes guitarists Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Kjaergaard is the bridge between them: sometimes he plays the piano fiercely and percussively while at other times the space between the longer held, soft chords gives the bass voice a lot of space through which to sing.
Kjaergaard's respect for Cyrille and Cecil Taylor becomes particularly clear in two pieces: "Cyrille Surreal," a series of hypnotic chord sequences for Cyrille to groove and solo upon, and "Work of Art," which channels that intense 1960s Taylor/Cyrille energy in focused, concise composition.
Both "Elegy" and "Radio House Requiem" might be described as ballads and they are both gorgeous CD highlights. The latter does portray a sense of loss, but the sophisticated harmonies played at a slow, steady tempo make for riveting listening.
With eight tracks from three to thirteen minutes in length (at a total running time of approximately 56 minutes) and varying greatly in sonic and emotional dynamics, repeated listening will reveal more detail.
Track Listing: Optics; Dear Mr. Sear; Cyrille Surreal; Elegy; Mallets; Gyamtso; Work of Art; Radio House Requiem.
Personnel: Soren Kjaergaard: piano; Ben Street: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz