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Mike Davis: Fortunes and Hat-Tricks, Vol. 2

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Double bassist Mike Davis organizes his spontaneous, immediate improvisations-compositions according to two arbitrary guidelines. The Fortunes group of such compositions draw its inspiration from evocative song titles taken from about 100 fortune cookies, but Davis and his trio co-conspirators—saxophonist Jacob Duncan and drummer Jason Tiemann—never discuss their different interpretations of these titles before playing. The second concept for these compositions, Hat- Tricks, dictates that each musician writes brief, abstract instruction for another musician, and none of the musicians discusses with the other his own understanding of the instruction before playing.

Both concepts owe much to the innovative compositional tools of iconoclast composer John Cage that undermined the role of the composer and emphasized the intuitive and random elements of any composition. Later these ideas were expanded and transformed on the conducted improvisations of Butch Morris or in the musical game Cobra by John Zorn. Davis began to experiment with these compositional concepts more than ten years ago and released the first volume of such spontaneous compositions earlier in 2013 on his own label, Tmpf records.

As on the first volume the trio opts for brief and intense pieces that stress the equal roles and the collaborative and highly versatile interplay of the trio and its ability to articulate a common idea within seconds. Davis or Tiemann rarely take the role of time keepers or settle on an agreed pulse and Duncan does not rely on a rhythmic basis for his alto sax flights, and all sound as busy mediating upon each other's urgent outbursts.

Few of these immediate and also disposable compositions leave a lasting impression. "Hat-Trick #8" features a highly emotional solo by Duncan; "Hat-Trick #2" enjoys the wild and restless drumming of Tiemann that challenges Davis and Duncan; and the surprising song poem "Hat-Trick #7." "Hat- Trick #6" is a rarity with its chaotic and manic energy, but paradoxically it stresses how difficult it is even for such adventurous trio to leave its sonic comfort zone and explore much wilder sonic terrains.

Track Listing: You Are Known For Being Quick In Actions and Decisions; Hat-Trick #4; Hat-Trick #8; People In Your Background Will Be More Cooperative Than Usual; We Must Not Become Complacent Over Any Success; Hat-Trick #2; Hat-Trick #7; The Less One Has To Do, The Less Time One Finds To Do It; Hat-Trick #6; We Are Very Happy Together; Hat-Trick #5; Hat-Trick #10.

Personnel: Mike Davis: acoustic bass; Jacob Duncan: alto saxophone; Jason Tiemann: drums.

Title: Fortunes and Hat-Tricks, Vol. 2 | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Tmpf Records

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