David Haney: Volume One, Two and Three

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David Haney
Volume One (solos)
Volume Two (duets)
Volume Three (trios)
CIMP Records

Originally from Canada, the Portland, Oregon-based pianist and composer David Haney seems to garner more attention each year, though many ears have yet to be exposed to the music and sounds created by this improviser who utilizes the inside of the piano as much as the keys themselves. With a slim discography, these three new releases will help change that, each volume offering a unique angle that—taken together—create a well-rounded picture of Haney's artistry, from solo ( Volume One ) to duets ( Volume Two ) to trios ( Volume Three ). Similar to his recording debut as leader (2001's Caramel Topped Terrier ), Haney evenly mixes three preferred instrumentations with some of the same cast of musicians including veteran trombonist Julian Priester and Dutch drumming legend Han Bennink. Thoroughly "composed"—or rather spontaneously improvised—of the 28 tracks from the compiled volumes only three are not composed or co-composed by Haney (both a duo and trio rendition of Herbie Nichols' "House Party Starting," plus a trio of Nichols' "Twelve Bars.")

For Volume One , Haney experiments on half the tracks with glass bottles, mallets, tongue drum and ebows on the piano strings, revealing his classical training and showcasing an amazing depth of sound and texture (this volume offers perhaps the best overall mix) of echoing notes and subtle haunting effects. At times, Haney's dexterity can sound like piano for four hands, or more accurately music for piano and percussion, though never in overwhelming fashion; he frequently takes momentary pauses like a saxophonist's breath connecting short runs of notes. This is modern music in the minimalist vein, rarely swinging but proving that swing-ing is certainly not as essential as the improvising element to be a qualifier for "jazz."

With collaborators on his other two discs, Haney's music tends to be more apt to intersperse a swing element with the rhythmically fervent brushwork of his drumming conspirators. Volume Two ranges from Haney pairing himself off in duos with either of drummer/percussionists Bennink and Jimmy Bennington, soprano saxophonist Pablo Ladesma, or Priester. The trombonist—with whom Haney duo-ed at Jazz Gallery early this year—is at his most ingeniously experimental on the two tracks he's featured, which unfortunately are cut abruptly short at around three minutes (a common pitfall to some shorter tracks which seem to be snippets from longer improvisations). (Note: on Volume Three , the trombonist's improvising is left unadulterated on three tracks that total 36 minutes.) Bennington (on two tracks) and Bennink (on two of four tracks) focus on brushes. The standout is the Bennink/Haney duo of "House Party Starting," which showcases Haney's great level of appreciation for that time period not to mention its unheralded composer, thus adding to the grand lineage of piano-drum duos (he's also duo-ed with Andrew Cyrille), from Russ Freeman-Shelly Manne to Cecil Taylor-Max Roach.

On Volume Three —a disc featuring live tunes on over half of its selections—Haney offers a totally different rendition of the same Nichols composition with a piano trio. Straight-ahead piano and bass provide the beautiful melody and beat, and scratching and scraping percussive effects are assumably provided by drummer Diego Chamy who also plays his drumstick heads rubbed over his cymbals in, likewise, equally effective fashion. Haney and company successfully accomplish what seems his main music mission—that of fusing the disparate worlds of music, the grand meeting if you will of the structured and random. Haney's music requires open ears. It's as accessible as you allow it to be once you put aside your musical guard of definitions, parameters, and expectations.

Volume 1

Tracks: Coyote's Vigil, Schwartzchild Bagatelles 1-6, Sueno de los Dulcimers, Schwartzchild Bagatelles 7-12, Slave Lake/Fold-up Alberta, Propped-Up Weasel in the Cardboard Jungle, Jeanette/ Variation on a Bagatelle by Tomas Svoboda, Undefined Space, Schwartzchild Bagatelles 13-19.
Personnel: David Haney (piano).

Volume 2

Tracks: Jota Jota in the Hall of the Elephant King, Surface Tension, Improvisation on a Bagatelle by Tomas Svoboda, Indigenous Friends, House Party Starting, Sweet Swinging Giraffes, For Kelsang Gama, Thunderclap and Lightening Tooth, Chaccarerra Improvisation, Blues Bularias.
Personnel: David Haney (piano) with Jimmy Bennington (drums), Han Bennink (drums), Pablo Ladesma (soprano sax), Julian Priester (trombone).

Volume 3

Tracks: Khartoum from Space, Solos and Late Night Thoughts, Little Entry, House Party Starting, Twelve Bars, Sunrise in the East, El Camino del San Rafael, Quiet Passage, Little Encore.
Personnel: David Haney (piano) with Julian Priester (trombone), Buell Neidlinger (bass), Juan Pablo Carletti (drums), Gerry Hemingway (drums), Wolter Wierbos (trombone), Diego Chamy (drums), Jorge Hernaez (bass).

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