Ches Smith, Tyshawn Sorey & Roy Haynes
Perhaps bewilderingly, Sorey managed to pull in a very youthful crowd, once again packing The Stone, but not particularly with the older Downtown crew. The puzzle revolves around Sorey's music being part of the free jazz lineage, but drawing in an audience who was probably well-versed in electronica and rock'n'roll. Perhaps it's simply his youthfulness.
Refreshingly, Sorey is a performer who has already cultivated a very individual manner. It's glaringly obvious that he's listening to all manner of musically oddball forms. It's of paramount importance that he's covering improvisation of the most intuitive, childlike type, as well as being attuned to finely-detailed composition. He seems to be at once a primitivist outsider and a studied formalist.
Sorey pre-instructed the venue's doorman to start up his iPod, which proceeded to play a sound collage that was surely assembled by the drummer himself. A dense hubbub ensued, with Captain Beefheart popping out as one of its recognizable elements. Then, Sorey opened the door to the downstairs dressing room, and ambled up, clutching his melodica and trombone.
First, he sat at the piano and played a rumination on space, casting an occasional glance up at the audience to gauge their reaction. Was it just that the Stone website hinted at a possible klezmer repertoire, or were there actually stray traces of Jewish song? Some of Sorey's melodic hints called to mind the compositions of Maurice El Médioni. Then Sorey moved to his more accustomed drums, although his solo piece was anything but accustomed. He was probing the qualities of a prayer bowl, then a small gong, or a cowbell, picking out the tiniest of shimmering sounds, using furball sticks, then immediately muting his strikes. He was engaging in a particular cycle of incremental activity, eventually crashing metal, cymbals and bass drum simultaneously, and setting up an unpredictable rhythmic motion; breaths were collectively held. Sorey's intensity was infectious and commanding; he seemed like a quiet, introverted soul, but there was also a strong feeling of focused power. Capable of building into an almost frighteningly brutal release, he set up a complicated and unpredictable cycles of metal and skin blurring.
Out came the trombone. On went the iPod. This time, the soundtrack was a hyper-granular close-up of a turntable out-groove. Sorey disappeared into the toilet to, presumably, fill his instrument with water. After a while he emerged, removed the bend of his 'bone, and blew. Water spouted across the row of listeners behind him: a semi-pleasant shock, and a defusing of meditational tension, Sorey proceeded to play along with the crackles 'n' clicks, adding his own water-clogged hackings.
He then delivered a short, melodic piece on the melodica, the most conventional and direct part of the set. Back at the drums, he played along with another recording, soloing at length in a phonetic matching of the interview tape he'd set rolling. This was performed with a remarkable precision, recalling the way that Steve Reich has explored the twinning of voice-snatches with notated mimicry.
Sorey gave one of the most serious, studied and nail-biting performances possible, but also, paradoxically, it was humorous, natural, animistic and completely spontaneous. We were transfixed.
Roy Haynes & The Fountain Of Youth
September 7, 2011
Roy Haynes possesses the utmost in veteran distinction, and is also one of the few surviving pioneers of jazz drumming. This Boston master also manages to exude the vitality and skilled application of a player many decades younger than his 86 years. The Fountain Of Youth band name is highly appropriate. There are massive benefits in maintaining a stable quartet formation, allowing a special rapport to pervade the music-making process.
For this opening set of a week's run at Dizzy's, the Fountain was already gushing at full pressure. Haynes was joined by his usual cohorts, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and bass man David Wong, but the piano stool was inhabited by a guesting David Kikoski, a longtime playing partner of the leader. Haynes kept a light touch for his propellant skimming, periodically emphasizing each tune-peak with a sudden boom. He kept cymbals shimmering in the air, spinning like plates held aloft on skinny sticks. As ever, Haynes couldn't resist a walkabout, investigating hidden parts of his kit as he circled around it, targeting strategic strikes.