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Two From The Pyroclastic Label: Cory Smythe & Eric Revis

Jerome Wilson By

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The Pyroclastic label run by pianist Kris Davis received a lot of attention last year due to the critical acclaim given Davis' own album on the label, Diatom Ribbons. It has kept going this year, continuing to present challenging projects by forward thinking musicians. Here are a couple of them.

Cory Smythe
Accelerate Every Voice
Pyroclastic
2020

Inspired by Andrew Hill's Lift Every Voice, (Blue Note, 1970), album for quintet and vocal choir, Cory Smythe has made a recording where five vocalists produce mostly wordless vocals, with only Smythe's piano for accompaniment, that are shaped and looped into fabrics of pure sound. At times they make massed hums and drones that resemble Meredith Monk's vocal works and other times they come out with popping and scatting sounds out of Bobby McFerrin's style of vocalese. Elsewhere their howls and barks are electronically manipulated into airy choruses that sounds like a syncopated calliope.

Smythe gives tinkling support and commentary to the voices on most tracks but plays alone on the final one. "Piano and Ocean Waves For Deep Relaxation" is exactly what it says, the echoing sound of scraped and treated piano strings accompanied, and eventually overwhelmed, by the relentless sound of ocean waves.

Eric Revis
Slipknots Through A Looking Glass
Pyroclastic
2020

Eric Revis' Slipknots Through A Looking Glass is conventionally jazzy on the surface but goes into many varied directions. Revis has had his widest exposure as Branford Marsalis' bass player but he goes down a more experimental path when he records as a leader. Here, he leads a quintet that features Darius Jones andBill McHenry on saxophones, Kris Davis on piano and Chad Taylor on drums. It covers a lot of ground but always keeps Revis' rich bass sound in the center.

On "Baby Renfro" the sax players chop staccato lines over a jagged funk rhythm. "Earl and the Three-Fifths Compromise" quietly slips into late-night meditative blues mood. The saxophones quietly spread over a muted seesawing beat while Davis trills. Jones' composition "Shatter" has the saxophonists screaming like punk rockers while on "ProByte" they delicately intertwine as Revis and Taylor keep the rhythm sharp and lively. McHenry's "When I Become Nothing" is a lovely, melancholy ballad, while the abstract "House Of Leaves" places isolated bits of unison sax phrases, bass explorations, piano chords and drum cracks into deep fields of silence. It sounds like a slower, pared down version of the group music Cecil Taylor made on the Into The Hot (Impulse, 1962) album. In addition to all that, there are the three brief "Slipknots" pieces—deeply melodic bass solos faintly accompanied by ethereal sounds. This CD shows off the wide breadth of Eric Revis' musical interests. He gives his personal takes on everything from funk to blues to dub in the company of an excellent group.

Tracks and Personnel

Accelerate Every Voice

Tracks: Northern Cities Vowel Shift; Accelerate Every Voice; Marl Every Voice; Kinetic Whirlwind Sculpture I; Vehemently; Kinetic Whirlwind Sculpture II; Knot Every Voice; Weatherproof Song; Piano and Ocean Waves For Deep Relaxation.

Personnel: Kyoko Kitamura: voice; Michael Mayo: voice, looper; Raquel Acevedo Klein: voice; Steven Hrycelak: vocal bass; Kari Francis: vocal percussion; Cory Smythe: piano, electronics.

Slipknots Through A Looking Glass

Tracks: Baby Renfro; SpAE; Earl & The Three-Fifths Compromise; Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, Part 1; Shutter; ProByte; Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, Part 2; House Of Leaves; When I Become Nothing; Vimen; Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, Part 3.

Personnel: Eric Revis: bass; Kris Davis: piano; Bill McHenry: tenor saxophone; Darius Jones: alto saxophone; Chad Taylor: drums, mbira; Justin Faulkner: drums (1,3).

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