Tyshawn Sorey: Koan (2009)
Koan follows the critically acclaimed That/Not (Firehouse 12 Records, 2007), a double-disc set that hinted at the brooding music to come. Here, Sorey has assembled a trio with guitarist Todd Neufeld and bassist Thomas Morgan (also doubling on guitar). Sorey's music reveals itself slowly and in a most quiet way. Inside the pacing and meditation of sounds is the players' very self- effacing improvisation. The ambient nature of the sounds encourage leaning into the listening experience and gathering meaning from the sound, rather than the robustness generally associated with improvisation. Not quite chamber jazz, minimalism, free, nor any category, the harmonious and organic sounds are as strange yet attractive to the western ear as the Zen practice to which Sorey attends.
Listening to Koan conjures images of Forest Whitaker in Jim Jarmusch's 1999 film Ghost Dog, as the modern day samurai whose dedication to tradition makes him an anomaly in society. Likewise, Sorey's compositions lead away from traditional jazz (and, moreover, free improvisation), but command attention to each moment of music making.
Track Listing: Awakening; Only One Sky; Correct truth; Nocturnal; Two Guitars; Embed.
Personnel: Tyshawn Sorey: drums; Thomas Morgan: bass, guitar; Todd Neufeld: guitar.
Record Label: 482 Music
Style: Beyond Jazz