8

Matt Mitchell: Fiction

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Matt Mitchell: Fiction Pianist Matt Mitchell's debut solo recording, Fiction, is actually a duo recording. And while it is a performance of fifteen compositions, the music was originally conceived of as etudes, or short pieces—exercises to improve the pianist's ability to incorporate improvisation into composed music.

Mitchell is quite the in-demand sideman. He can be heard in Tim Berne's Snakeoil, Dave Douglas' Quintet, Darius Jones' Quartet, John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet, and in the bands of Michael Attias and Rudresh Mahanthappa.

This recording found its roots in Berne's Snakeoil tours when drummer Ches Smith began to play along with Mitchell's etudes. Smith is a player equally conversant in the languages of jazz and DIY rock. For him, swing and smash are confederates. He plays in the bands of Marc Ribot, and Mary Halvorson, and leads his own trio and quintet.

These etudes, presented for piano and drums, can best be described as Cecil Taylor plays Scarlatti. Mitchell employs extreme changes and twisting intervals, scraping odd rhythms against changing harmonics. The duo makes for a sympathetic pairing. Smith reads and interprets the pieces, matching Mitchell's percussive attack on "Upright," mimicking his funny walk on "Singe," and tracing (with vibraphone) the mathematical melody of "Wanton Eon."

The dense, ever-changing compositions give little respite to the ear. Mitchell's "Brain Color" is a hallucination that gives the impression of deconstructing Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight." Here, he out-angles Monk's angular music. Mitchell hints at the melody like a hip-hop DJ, sampling pieces and parts of a dream Thelonious might have had. Mitchell and Smith pummel notes into the shape—but not necessarily the language—of Monk, but instead the late pianist's spirit. These exercises exhaust, invigorate, and ultimately inspire.

Track Listing: Veins; Brain Color; Upright; Singe; Wanton Eon; Dadaist Flu; Commas; Id Balm; Ohm Nuggets; Diction; Tether; Action Field; Specialty Hug; Nightmare Tesseract; Narcotic Bases.

Personnel: Matt Mitchell: piano; Ches Smith: drums, percussion, vibraphone.

Title: Fiction | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Salt Task" CD/LP/Track Review Salt Task
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Montréal" CD/LP/Track Review Montréal
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "La Sombra" CD/LP/Track Review La Sombra
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974" CD/LP/Track Review Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Another Place, Another Time" CD/LP/Track Review Another Place, Another Time
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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