Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

10

Thollem McDonas: Meeting At The Parting Place

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Coming at improvisational music from the classical realm, pianist Thollem McDonas remains resolutely outside of the main stream of the jazz world. Primarily inspired by, as he puts it in his liner notes to Meeting at the Parting Place, ..."European concert music from the Renaissance to the 20th Century and jazz, particularly of the '60s and '70s" McDonas has consciously chosen a more difficult—but more artistically rewarding—path. He's one of those rare artists whose modus operandi is predicated upon the development of a highly personal approach to music-making, and one that encompasses all of his experience—musical or otherwise—thus far. For McDonas, this includes seemingly endless travel, numerous musical associations that span vast economic and cultural differences, and significant work in punk rock (with Mike Watt, John Dieterich, Brian Chase, and with the Italian band Tsigoti), overtly jazz-based improvisation (trios and duos with Lukas Ligeti, Nels Cline, William Parker, and Michael Wimberly), classical music (with collaborators such as Pauline Oliveros and the late cellist Stefano Scodanibbio), and in various multimedia settings. It's as if his main intent is to remain—or become—truly open to all possibilities.

To some, an album of improvised music for solo piano may seem to be an insurmountably difficult listening experience. Nothing wrong with that. And McDonas pulls no punches here; his virtuoso improvising is as freewheeling and challenging as ever. Yet, Meeting at the Parting Place is, above all, a work of art that invites its audience to lean in, enveloping the listener in a sound world that is simultaneously strange and familiar. Perhaps Thollem's most thoroughly inviting and enjoyable recording thus far, Meeting at the Parting Place is replete with Moorish, North African, and Middle Eastern harmonies, rhythms and motifs. Even the dissonant staccato bursts and inside-the-piano manipulations that open "The Improbability of Now" resolve into rhythms and melodies that seem flamenco-inspired. A host of other influences and interesting tendencies seem to pop up unexpectedly; there's a sequence about 13 minutes into "Facing West to the East" that could be a coup de chapeau to Cecil Taylor, there are also hints of minimalism and passages of Satie-like delicacy and charm. McDonas' manic humor is also quite evident throughout: he particularly likes to "crush" passages of highly technical classical technique with sudden bursts of dissonant chords or even-more-manic scrabblings.

Though each of the album's four long tracks exceeds 15 minutes in length, there are pauses, breathing spaces, and lacunae within that presage significant diversions and variations. These gaps and discontinuities serve McDonas' music well, and remind the listener that there's a thinking, feeling, breathing human being doing these amazing things with a piano. Some of the album's most breathtaking moments come right after these pauses; such as the dark-hued rumination that follows the opening sequence of "The Improbability of Now." Meeting at the Parting Place is a true tour de force of spontaneous music creation; a wonderful example of what happens when immense technique, boundless inspiration and highly focused artistic vision converge.

Track Listing: Revelations of the Sun; Facing West to the East; The Improbability of Now; And Each Other.

Personnel: Thollem McDonas: acoustic piano.

Title: Meeting At The Parting Place | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Odradek Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Bian

Bian

Thollem McDonas
Estamos Trio: People's Historia

Hinges

Hinges

Thollem McDonas
Magimc: Polishing the Mirror

Mind Control Free For All

Mind Control Free For All

Thollem McDonas
Dub Narcotic Session

In Return to It All Once Again

In Return to It All Once Again

Thollem McDonas
On Debussy's Piano And...

as there are

as there are

Thollem McDonas
Thollem/Parker/Cline: The...

Between Our World Is Seen

Between Our World Is Seen

Thollem McDonas
The View From Up

For All Those Yet To Come

For All Those Yet To Come

Thollem McDonas
Gone Beyond Reason To Find One

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Meeting At The Parting Place

Meeting At The...

Odradek Records
2017

buy
Meeting At The Parting Place

Meeting At The...

Odradek Records
2016

buy
Conformity Contortion

Conformity Contortion

New Atlantis Records
2014

buy
The View From Up

The View From Up

Setola di Maiale
2014

buy
Michael Snow and Thollem McDonas: Live at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Michael Snow and...

Edgetone Records
2014

buy
Thollem/Robair: Trio Music Minus One

Thollem/Robair: Trio...

Setola di Maiale
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019