All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

83

Lisa Mezzacappa & Nightshade: Cosmic Rift

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Since relocating to San Francisco ten years ago, Staten Island-born bassist Lisa Mezzacappa has established herself as a commanding presence in the vibrant West Coast scene. Mezzacappa's pliant bass lines have provided a stalwart foundation for some of the Bay Area's most dynamic projects, ranging from the visceral excursions of her riotous garage jazz band Bait & Switch to her collaborative efforts in the bold collective quartet Cylinder. Cosmic Rift, the debut of Mezzacappa's neo-classical quintet Nightshade, showcases a more restrained side of her artistry, reveling in the moody ambience implied by the ensemble's name.

The electro-acoustic lineup includes clarinetist Cory Wright, guitarist John Finkbeiner, vibraphonist/percussionist Kjell Nordeson, and electronics manipulator Tim Perkis, whose subtle contributions imbue the band's chamber music-like instrumentation with kaleidoscopic color. The group's genesis can be traced to 2009, when Mezzacappa was invited by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to develop new pieces inspired by the work of visual artists Yehudit Sasportas and Edgar Arceneaux. Mezzacappa's atmospheric originals and stately arrangements of unorthodox covers evoke the cinematic air of the artists' implied visual narratives, as illustrated by the album jacket, which features Sasportas' abstract chiaroscuro ink drawing Cosmic Rift No.38.

Mezzacappa's interpretive prowess is revealed in tasteful adaptations of Frank Zappa's eccentric ode "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque" and Oliver Messiaen's majestic "Regard de L'etoile." She streamlines the former composition's mercurial vacillations into an ascending drama dominated by brooding bass clarinet ruminations and Finkbeiner's scorching fretwork—while preserving the original's reverent tone. The latter piece is underscored by hypnotic vibraphone motifs and otherworldly electronic samples, emulating the renowned French composer's spiritualism. Mezzecappa's own writing is similarly intriguing. The melancholy "Delphinus," based on the Greek myth, ebbs towards peaceful resolution with placid, glassy lines, whereas the surreal "Alvamel's Dream" capriciously alternates between peaceful tranquility and nightmarish interludes. Wright's sole contribution, "Ballet," unveils coarse, sinewy textures orbiting a dulcet ostinato, punctuated by brash interjections. The session is stylishly bookended by variations on "The Cosmic Rift;" their chaotic pointillism encapsulates the album's many moods while providing stylistic consistency to the date.

Nightshade's impressionistic excursions are emboldened by a multihued palette of coruscating highlights, shadowy transitions and intricate line work. Avoiding routine formal constraints in favor of idiosyncratic narratives and collective interplay, Cosmic Rift paints a striking portrait of Mezzacappa's versatility as a bandleader, composer and improviser.

Track Listing: Cosmic Rift (prelude); Delphinus; The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque; Regard de L'etoile; Ballet; Alvamel's Dream; Cosmic Rift.

Personnel: Lisa Mezzacappa: acoustic bass; Cory Wright: Bb and bass clarinets; John Finkbeiner: electric guitar; Tim Perkis: electronics; Kjell Nordeson: vibraphone, percussion.

Title: Cosmic Rift | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Leo Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
avantNOIR

avantNOIR

Clean Feed Records
2017

buy
X Marks The Question

X Marks The Question

Queen Bee Records
2014

buy
Cosmic Rift

Cosmic Rift

Leo Records
2011

buy
 

Earworms

Rhythm Zone
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read World Domination Vol 1: Furie CD/LP/Track Review
World Domination Vol 1: Furie
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 20, 2018
Read 20 CD/LP/Track Review
20
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 20, 2018
Read Frank Salis CD/LP/Track Review
Frank Salis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 20, 2018
Read Live! CD/LP/Track Review
Live!
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 19, 2018
Read My Favorite Things(1960-1969) CD/LP/Track Review
My Favorite Things(1960-1969)
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 19, 2018
Read The Acadian Orogeny CD/LP/Track Review
The Acadian Orogeny
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 19, 2018
Read "Verisimilitude" CD/LP/Track Review Verisimilitude
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Then and Now" CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "Standards" CD/LP/Track Review Standards
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971" CD/LP/Track Review On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Sun Embassy" CD/LP/Track Review Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Komitas:  Seven Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Komitas: Seven Songs
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 7, 2018