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Album Review

Allen Shawn / Michael Bisio: Improvisations

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Allen Shawn / Michael Bisio: Improvisations
In this new world of fake news and alternative facts, you may like to challenge the title of pianist Allen Shawn and bassist Michael Bisio's Improvisations. This music is so properly presented, it has all the elements of composed music. To acknowledge these eight tracks as instant composing is sort of mind-blowing.

Those immersed in the improvised jazz world will know Bisio's work in pianist Matthew Shipp's trio. Also in duo, Shipp/Bisio released the two excellent discs Floating Ice (Relative Pitch, 2012) and Live In Seattle (Arena Music Promotion, 2016). If you reference those two duo recordings against the bassist's work here with Allen Shawn, you'll notice the angularity and aggression are tempered. For this pairing, that is a compliment.

Shawn and Bisio are faculty colleagues at Bennington College, and as the liner notes tell us, this is (amazingly) the first recording of improvisational music by the pianist, who is more likely to produce modern classical music. Reference for listeners here might be Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden's Jasmine (ECM Records, 2010), except of course Jarrett and Haden played standards and Shawn and Bisio are instant composing.

Steeped in multiple approaches, his sounds veer from quiet chamber reflections to stride pulsations, from references to Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro to Duke Ellington and Jimmy Blanton. Throughout, the firm pulse of Bisio is the foundation. His powerful grip is bedrock, yet what stands out is the sympathetic nature of his gestures. Much of Bisio's playing is concerned with the various orientations of Shawn's approach. From their instant composing we have fully formed works of art.

Track Listing

[10:54]; [5:54]; [7:46]; [4;31]; [3:31]; [5:25]; [5:07]; [6:25].

Personnel

Michael Bisio: bass, acoustic; Allen Shawn: piano.

Album information

Title: Improvisations | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced


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