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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt...And More Dirt

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Pi Recordings, under the leadership of Seth Rosner, got its start in 2001 with the simultaneous release of two CDs from avant-garde reedman Henry Threadgill, Everybody's Mouth's A Book, featuring the band Make a Move, and Up Popped The Two Lips, by the Threadgill group Zooid. This was a re-emergence for Threadgill; his three-record deal with Columbia Records had ended in 1996, with the release of Where's Your Cup. He has since made the most of his relationship with Rosner's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt...And More Dirt

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One of only three jazz musicians to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music, for his 2015 Pi Recordings release In for a Penny, In for a Pound, Henry Threadgill is the avant-garde member of a triumvirate that includes the mainstream in Wynton Marsalis and free jazz with legend Ornette Coleman. A musical illusionist, Threadgill can create a scope of orchestration that is disproportionate to the size of its source. He can generate tremendous power and emotion without pyrotechnics or mawkishness, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dan Weiss: Starebaby

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It is always interesting when a musician's newest release zigzags away from previous works, making an abrupt change of course. Often it happens at the request of a producer or record company, and probably because his/her previous disc was not well received. This in no way explains Starebaby by drummer Dan Weiss. Sixteen: Drummers Suite (Pi Recordings, 2016) and Fourteen (Pi Recordings, 2014), both larger ensemble recordings, composed and arranged by the drummer were critical successes. He could easily have ...

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Jen Shyu: Song of the Silver Geese

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The dramatic and sublime The Song of the Silver Geese is vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu's magnum opus. On it Shyu draws from her dual cultural ancestry as well as other east Asian heritages to craft memorable performance art replete with dynamic spontaneity, unique instrumentation and exquisite poetry. The nine-piece suite is divided into “doors" and each segment brims with a mystical ambience and a surreal air. Shyu opens “Door 4: Sinom Semarangan" for example, with her resonant ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Mitchell: A Pouting Grimace

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A regular member of Tim Berne's Snakeoil and the Dave Douglas Quintet, pianist/keyboardist/composer Matt Mitchell has recently appeared on Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls (ACT Music, 2015) and Jonathan Finlayson's Moving Still (Pi Recordings, 2016). Mitchell has worked with a broad array of top-name artists including Steve Coleman, John Hollenbeck and Mario Pavone. Mitchell is a chameleon, able to take on completely different musical personas across of fast array of situations. His own Vista Accumulation (Pi Recordings, 2015) was one of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Verisimilitude

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So much has been said and written about Tyshawn Sorey's presence as a composer, performer and educator, that there is a threat of redundancy, even in adding new superlatives. Each release, however, demands attention to his exceptional and unmatched creativity. Putting aside Sorey's leader dates for the moment, those who have sought him out as a colleague, constitute a who's-who of outstanding creative artists. Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Steve Coleman, Steve Lehman, Roscoe Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Verisimilitude

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Given Tyshawn Sorey's propensity for shattering the boundaries between jazz, free improvisation and classical music, it's noteworthy that he decided to stick with just his regular trio for his latest release, Verisimilitude. His previous record, last year's Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi), drew heavily from the streams of classical and new music, with the additional presence of a string trio essential in giving that music a chamber-like feel, albeit with a good deal of open- ended improvisational space and even ...

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Steve Coleman: Morphogenesis

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Steve Coleman's music has long sounded largely removed from the direct influence of his native Southside Chicago, not because those elements are missing, but because he creates a hybrid universe that owes as much to Africa and Europe, and to folk, funk, classical and jazz. His newest release, Morphogenesis, while furthering Coleman's musical development, displays features that were present as far back as his Drop Kick (BMG, 1995) and up to Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings, 2010); the stripped ...

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Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis

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After his 2015 masterpiece, Synovial Joints, alto saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman left his listeners wondering how he could try to top that extraordinary project. With 21 musicians and an ambitious melding of classical and jazz instrumentation with intricate compositional decisions, Coleman used that record to reveal yet another dimension of his constantly-evolving musical concept--one that's been changing shape for over thirty years now. In some ways, Morphogenesis continues that project: although this is a smaller nine-piece ensemble, almost all of these ...

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Miles Okazaki: Trickster

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There is nothing deceptive about guitarist Miles Okazaki's Trickster. It is simply an elegantly crafted work that engages with its narrative quality and its darkly hued, intriguing texture. On his fourth release as a leader the New York based Okazaki leads a quartet that consists of two of his bandmates from altoist Steve Coleman's Five Elements, bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman. Dynamic pianist Craig Taborn rounds up the group. Okazaki and Taborn open the album on ...