John Blum: Who Begat Eye (2010)
Pianist John Blum is a native New Yorker who has been immersed in the city's free improvisation scene for the last 15 years. His work with bassist William Parker and drummer Sunny Murray has had the highest profile and last year's release by this trio, In The Shade Of Sun, appeared on guitarist Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label, no doubt doing much to push Blum's music towards an alternative rock audience.
This set of solo pieces was recorded in a single day's session on the 22nd of June 2008. Its tune titles are lifted from "Lineage," the Ted Hughes poem. It's intensified. It's condensed. It's compacted. It's impacted. It's unavoidable to invoke the name of Cecil Taylor as a stylistic precedent. Or maybe Don Pullen. Blum plays with such forcefulness and rapidity that these short-ish outbursts sound like Conlon Nancarrow's player piano rolls, interpreted via human hands, freed up into a liquid state.
Blum is darker than Taylor, exploring a deeper timbre. He makes slashing strokes across the keyboard, laterally pile-driving, adopting different speeds, clusters and event-groupings. He really sounds like he's released his mind from all conventionally governing principles. His fast detail is delivered with a manic attack. Showers, sprays, mini-tantrums. He possesses high control and a vast lexicon. The sequence of improvisations sounds like some bastardized classical recital. Blum is truly a virtuoso percussionist. He sounds as though he's realizing structures in his head, as if in narrative overdrive, keying in tongues.
Track Listing: Who Begat Eye; Who Begat Fear; Who Begat Wing; Who Begat Bone; Who Begat Granite; Who Begat Sweat; Who Begat Nothing; Who Begat Never; Never Never Never.
Personnel: John Blum: piano.