All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

4

Stephan Crump / Kris Davis / Eric McPherson: Asteroidea

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
When one hears the slightly ominous bass-register ostinato from Kris Davis's piano at the outset of the Borderlands Trio's debut album, Asteroidea, a spirit of mystery and intrigue quickly emerges. Its repetitive effect is hypnotic, and it creates the kind of mood you'd expect in classic film noir, where the unexpected is lurking right around the corner. A willingness to venture into the unknown is at the heart of the music, and bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Eric McPherson play equal roles with Davis in charting this strange, amorphous territory.

All six of the cuts are freely improvised, but the trio is able to create a spontaneous logic for each of them. Davis delights in providing malleable rhythmic figures that can be elongated, toyed with, or refracted at will, and this requires the utmost in focus and communication from Crump and McPherson. The wide-ranging, 26-minute opener, "Borderlands," is a case in point, as ideas pour out of Davis's prepared piano and her partners respond empathetically, always seeking to locate a groove amidst the welter of fragments. And they usually find one, although it's never a straightforward process, as the musicians' restless energy keeps them on the constant lookout for new opportunities for spontaneous creation. It's truly a collective search, moreover, as Crump and McPherson generate plenty of their own ideas: a fine example arises midway through "Borderlands," where it's Crump and McPherson who establish the dynamic, driving tempo that prods Davis to some of her most impassioned playing on the record.

This is also a group comfortable with open space and silence, as their communicative rapport leads them to the kind of close listening where they don't have to be filling the conversation with constant chatter. For instance, when Davis returns later in "Borderlands" to a reworked reprise of the ostinato figure with which she began the piece, Crump chooses not to fall in line with the groove; instead, he goes to arco, tempering the intensity and taking the music in a more contemplative vein, which leads the group to a quieter, but equally transfixing, exchange of thoughts. Another example is "Ochre," a spare, haunting track with a patient engagement with minimalist motifs that allows all three musicians to inhabit a space of delicate tranquility.

Proof-positive that collective improvisation can sometimes find its most compelling expression in the interstices between the notes, the Borderlands Trio has offered what is hopefully only the first of many intrepid explorations to come.

Track Listing: Borderlands; Carnaval Hill; Flockwork; Ochre; Body Waves; From Polliwogs.

Personnel: Stephan Crump: bass; Kris Davis: piano; Eric McPherson: drums.

Title: Asteroidea | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Intakt Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh CD/LP/Track Review
Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics CD/LP/Track Review
Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Invisible Atlas CD/LP/Track Review
Invisible Atlas
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Blue Dream CD/LP/Track Review
Blue Dream
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 24, 2018
Read Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
Still Dreaming
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 24, 2018
Read A New Beginning CD/LP/Track Review
A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "Barefoot Dances and Other Visions" CD/LP/Track Review Barefoot Dances and Other Visions
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 12, 2018
Read "Falando Docemente" CD/LP/Track Review Falando Docemente
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Liver" CD/LP/Track Review Liver
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 16, 2018
Read "Gledalec" CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Screen Sounds" CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 13, 2017