Abstract music tends to come in one of two varieties: either it's intensely intellectual, using complexity as a means to self-consciously explode stylistic boundaries; or it's a language of the soul, whose means of expression does not easily fit into preformatted norms, and therefore exploration inevitably represents a constant attempt to translate the full range of emotion into the language of music. Cooper-Moore's music decidedly falls into the latter category, emphasizing as it does various visions of beauty, something that's more than hinted at in the title for this, the first of a planned trio of Triptych Myth releases on AUM Fidelity.
Triptych Myth, which released a self-titled album on Hopscotch last year, is a trio comprised of pianist (and regular multi-instrumentalist) Cooper-Moore, bassist Tom Abbs, and drummer Chad Taylor. The three players speak the same natural tongue, so to speak, insofar as they collectively adapt to changes in mood and style without ever seeming self-conscious or academic about the process. The opening collective "All Up In It" gets off to a frisky start with an abrupt four-note (or to be precise, four-chord) theme, swinging lightly through episodes of dissonant piano exploration which tie together in counterintuitive ways.
A few minutes of quiet beauty and introspection mark Cooper-Moore's waltz "Frida K. The Beautiful" (for influential Mexican artist Frida Kahlo), though Chad Taylor and Tom Abbs engage in some restless back-and-forth behind the relatively simple piano lines. Taylor's propensity to introduce unexpected spacing between periods of heightened activity provides a textural layer of rhythm that sometimes integrates with the pianist's flow and other times seems to butt up against it. "Spiraling Out" presents more oddly-timed clusters and bunches from all three players, marking steps in every dimension toward the extremes of control.
A very brief pair of "Last Minute Trip"s, credited to Taylor, are more explicitly aimed at layers of texture and contrast, rather than development of any ostensible melody. Finally, the penultimate "Poppa's Gin in the Chicken Feed" holds to the straight and narrow, more or less, with a simple, upbeat melody and rhythms that get started with feathery swing and evolve into light funk.
As William Parker's very helpful liner notes indicate, "all of this music must be listened to several times" in order to fully appreciate its range and the way each player manages to express his own personality within the collective whole. The Beautiful is true to its title, a personal statement from players who see jazz (and music) as a medium to express human emotion and experience, exploring creatively outside familiar realms. Fresh, invigorating, and spiritually aware... bring on the sequels!
Personnel: Cooper-Moore: piano; Tom Abbs: bass; Chad Taylor: drums.