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Tyshawn Sorey: Alloy

Hrayr Attarian By

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Multi-instrumentalist and composer Tyshawn Sorey's fourth release as a leader, the intriguingly mystical Alloy, is a stimulating study of contrasts. The four, long Sorey originals are simultaneously expansive and intimate, somber yet with moments of subtle vibrance and stately yet brimming with spontaneity.

Sorey sticks to his main ax the drum set on the album as he deftly collaborates with his two sidemen through the intricacies of his own compositions while himself shunning the spotlight. Pianist Cory Smythe demonstrates his western classical training and his improvisational chops on his unaccompanied performance that makes up almost half of "A Love Song," the pièce de résistance of the disc. Smythe's contemplative mix of silent pauses and resonant notes evolve with intelligent clarity as the pianist exquisitely reconciles the prewritten with the ad-lib. Bassist Christopher Tordini's lyrical pizzicato complements Smythe's solemn tones as their duet expands over Sorey's gently crashing cymbals and unrestrained rhythmic flourishes.

The trio, with their sparse beats, reverberations and key strikes, create a dark and expectant atmosphere on "Returns." Their interplay, however, transforms into a percussive and delightfully noisy free extemporization with natural grace and sophisticated elegance.

Tordini's poignant con arco phrases create the eerie atmosphere on "Template." The tune seamlessly progresses from a pensive, ethereal dialogue between Tordini and Smythe to a funk infused three-way exchange as Sorey's thunderous drums join the group. Smythe's rolling vamps, Tordini's swaggering strings and Sorey's loose swing close the piece in a soulful mood.

The ensemble exhibits a superb balance between the cerebral and the emotive on the melancholic "Movement." Splashes of pastel hues and lilting harmonies alternate with intricate and provocative angular melodic fragments before the nocturnesque conclusion.

Unlike others who fuse jazz and chamber music, Sorey does not merely blend the identifying elements of each genre into a palatable hybrid. With Alloy he deconstructs each style to its core elements and distils a single artistic experience that is viscerally moving, intellectually rousing while maintaining a charming and ingenious singularity.

Track Listing: Returns; Movement; Template; A Love Song.

Personnel: Tyshawn Sorey: drums; Cory Smythe: piano; Christopher Tordini: bass.

Title: Alloy | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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