All That is Tied is the 35th album by Ran Blake, a celebration of his 70th birthday and the 40th anniversary of his first ESP album. Blake returns to tunes from his entire recorded career and continues to prove himself a dauntless adventurer in sound. His music works more at truly exploring harmony and reharmony than any other. It is limiting to call him a jazz pianist especially since he uses basically none of the standard ways that jazzers usually employ to demonstrate technique or play changes. Every tune here is a solo trip through the emotional world of this intriguing and individual artist. Though there are no straight melodies in the traditional sense, every one of these tunes suggests a universe of musical elements and thus the melodies, such as they are, work their way delicately into your system. For one exquisite example, start out with "Latter Rain Christian Fellowship . You can feel the pulse and power of a gospel setting and there's the hint of what feels like a song, but for Blake it seems more about an impression of a world rather than a way into imitating it. Every track works very much the same way. Only one tune is more than 5 minutes and the whole album comes in at about 43 minutes. But the music is so rich that it feels timeless.
Though known for his fiery and raging workouts on the tenor saxophone, Charles Gayle's first instrument was the pianohe learned it at age 7and he has developed a colorful and panoramic approach to improvising on it. On his debut solo piano album Time Zones, he's inspired by a range of players - from James P. Johnson to Art Tatum to Bud Powell to Cecil Taylor - and his keyboard inventions suggest those players and an almost 'classical' sense of the piano. You can hear snatches of many influences as he darkly digs into the blues on "Blues in Mississippi or evokes the early jazz players in "Delight . But all the time, Gayle is intent on making those suggestions part of broader and more complex new directions. This music will open your eyes, make you smile and even scratch your head in wonder.
Seventeen Pieces is another debut album of solo piano. Karayorgis has worked with many of the new musicians - Mat Maneri, Tony Malaby, Ken Vandermark and has often led a trio with Nate McBride and Randy Peterson or Curt Newton - but he's taken the leap of solo faith and recorded a set of his thoughtful originals along with his interpretations of works by 'modern' music masters and standards. His own tunes take on the sonorities of the keyboard and the harmonies and textures of contemporary 'classical' music and improvisation. The takes on music of Monk, Ellington, Dolphy, Tristano, Marsh, Ra - well, these are something else again. The notable themes powerfully and tightly launch other thoughts and directions while retaining a strong sense of the magic of the originals. Dig the slow take on Tristano's "Baby , itself based on "My Melancholy Baby . The experiment here works as a kind of Tristano etude but also as a dazzling new piece of music. And get a glimpse of how he plays with "Just Me, Just You , here related to Monk's own arrangement of the standard. Karayorgis' music lets you in little by little and it's a real trip to discover the adventures therein.
The accompanying press for Thirsty Ear's solo piano set One speaks of Matthew Shipp's "weapon being the piano and uses language like "explosive arsenal to describe what Shipp has at his command. The man uses the full scope of the keyboard to unlock thoughts and emotions that make their way from the heart and body and then through the fingers. It's not a destructive weapon that we hear but one which digs out mine-able material and creates gems from it. Sometimes it feels like difficult work and not everything is revealed at once. But when you discover the riches, they are dark and beautiful. The music here points to roots but these roots have to be explored and tended to without any immediate expectation of gratification. Despite the power and fury of some of the playing these often seem like more delicate miniatures and the pieces crystallize into art and then vanish! "The Rose is a Rose feels like an impressionistic ballad, a rose opening to reveal color that's not always readily lavishing. But this rose is a rose and it displays its dark beauty and invites you to come see it again. "Milky Way also suggests a new way of seeing, hearing and feeling a cosmic phenomenon. It also slowly opens and pulls you in its field.
Tracks and Personnel
All That Is Tied
Tracks: All That Is Tied; Breakthru; Birmingham; Thursday; How 'Bout That; Impresario of Death; Sontagism; Epilogue; Church of Latter Rain Christian Fellowship; Field Cry; Wende; Breakthru.
Personnel: Ran Blake: piano.
Tracks: Time Zones; Rush To Sunrise; Delight; Blues in Mississippi; Rhythm Twins; Inner Edges; That Memory.
Personnel: Charles Gayle: piano.
Tracks: Track 1; Track 2; Track 3; Track 4; Track 5; Track 6; Track 7; Track 8; Track 9; Track 10; Track 11; Track 12; Track 13; Track 14; Track 15; Track 16; Track 17.
Personnel: Pandelis Karayorgis: piano.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano.