8

Kris Davis: Duopoly

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Query: when does improvised music appear more arranged than written compositions? The question is not a zen koan, it is the notion put forth by the sixteen duets performed by pianist Kris Davis and her eight collaborating partners. Davis, who can no longer be labeled a "rising star" of jazz and improvised piano, is a fully formed mature performer. Her dozen or so discs as leader and multiple collaborations with Michael Formanek, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey, Jon Irabagon, and Eric Revis (to name just a few) have established her as a torchbearer for the next generation of jazz musicians.

The concept of Duopoly is quite simple. Each of Davis' collaborators recorded one written composition, the majority by Davis, and one improvisation. For this recording she cast her net wide, gathering folks she hasn't recorded with before, except guitarist Bill Frisell who, along with Davis, was featured on Kermit Driscoll's Reveille (Nineteen-Eight Records, 2010). Frisell opens the disc with the stark Davis composition, "Prairie Eyes," then closes with the improvisation named for each collaborator. His instantly recognizable Telecaster guitar feeds notes across Davis' prepared piano, each player serving the bare bones of the composition. When the two instantly compose, a trait shared by all of the improvisations, the ambition is to create a fully formed piece. Each pairing does indeed achieve those ends.

The engaging aspect here, is that each is achieved with differing players. Frisell's electric guitar could be contrasted with Julian Lage's acoustic, but each execution is a success. Drummer Billy Drummond's constant drum conversation on Thelonious Monk's "Eronel" becomes a painterly pulse in their improvisation, as does saxophonist Tim Berne's fingered minimalist squelch that rises (along with Davis) into a breakout eruption. Then there is the pair's loving deconstruction of Ellington's "Prelude To A Kiss" from clarinetist Don Byron and their subsequent improvisation that trod the most gentle path. The wow factor is turned up with fellow pianists Angelica Sanchez and Craig Taborn. Both players are skilled solo improvisers; their improvisations with Davis are small landscape painting masterpieces. Then again, so are Davis' interactions with drummer Marcus Gilmore.

Besides the audio disc, this release comes with a DVD video of each duo captured in split screen. One can listen to the music, then see how they actually accomplished it.

Track Listing: Prairie Eyes; Surf Curl; Fox Fire; Beneath The Leaves; Eronel; Dig & Dump; Trip Dance For Tim; Prelude To A Kiss; Don Byron; Tim Berne; Marcus Gilmore; Billy Drummond; Angelica Sanchez; Craig Taborn; Julian Lage; Bill Frisell.

Personnel: Kris Davis: piano; Don Byron: clarinet; Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Billy Drummond: drums; Angelica Sanchez: piano; Craig Taborn: piano; Julian Lage: guitar; Bill Frisell: guitar.

Title: Duopoly | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Pyroclastic Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read No Matter Where Noir CD/LP/Track Review No Matter Where Noir
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Out Of Silence CD/LP/Track Review Out Of Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Plodi CD/LP/Track Review Plodi
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Secret Language CD/LP/Track Review Secret Language
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Shamat CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Rímur" CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "Standards" CD/LP/Track Review Standards
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "En Corps Generation" CD/LP/Track Review En Corps Generation
by John Sharpe
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Blind Curves and Box Canyons" CD/LP/Track Review Blind Curves and Box Canyons
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "New Life" CD/LP/Track Review New Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor