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Relocating from her native Canada to New York City, pianist Kris Davis has infused her imposing talents into New York City's unconventional, downtown-like scene. She once again aligns her compositional and improvisation expertise with like-minded artists, who frequently transition the jazz idiom into a boundless vista. Hence, the album projects a topsy-turvy and rather oscillating aura, featuring the musicians' use of counterpoint, space, and emphatic exchanges. They mix it up, while also stretching themes to the hilt amid several introspective interludes that intimate a time warp of sorts.
"Big Band Ball" commences as a spooky foray, perhaps hinting at encounters from ungodly influences. Here, Davis locks in with violaist Mat Maneri and bassist Trevor Dunn's rhythmic plucking that conjures emotive responses and opens the floodgates for drummer Tom Rainey's lyrical rim-shots and asymmetrical tom hits. Imagery of a revolving panorama comes to fruition, heightened by saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock's yearning lines via a loose groove, implanted with a multipart structural component. With snappy backbeats and Davis' animated voicings, the band merges a whimsical scenario with exploratory dialogues.
Davis' significant compositional skills are evident throughout. Moreover, she leaves quite a bit of room for invention, yet sustains a semi-structured game plan that recurrently shuns the norm, even when discussing the freer realm of jazz.
Personnel: Kris Davis: piano; Mat Maneri: viola; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophone; Trevor Dunn: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.