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Tyshawn Sorey: Verisimilitude

Karl Ackermann By

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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 and Vijay Iyer have all drawn on Sorey's skills. As a leader, Verismilitude is Sorey's sixth release, all unprecedented in their own way.

Verisimilitude follows The Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi, 2016) an album that featured classical composition and improvisation. Both albums included Sorey's regular collaborators, pianist Cory Smythe and bassist Christopher Tordini, but The Inner Spectrum... featured a trio of string players that obviously influenced the dynamics of the music. The five pieces on Verisimilitude were derived from performances at The Village Vanguard and The Newport Jazz Festival and reflect a trio that has developed an aptitude for diagramming their music without stifling independence.

Verisimilitude is dark, not in an ominous way, but in a cagey, intentionally destabilized manner where things are sometimes different than they first appear -there are instances where the trio may play part of a score backwards as experimentation. "Cascade in Slow Motion"—the only track under ten minutes—sets a tone for the album in that it is a series of textural motions that set a mood. The thirty-minute epic "Algid November," despite its restraint, is a fascinatingly complex work. The trio interprets Sorey's composition with equal parts of profound beauty and perplexing tractability. "Contemplating Tranquility" is an unlikely combination of meditative and industrial, its drone often with a metallic property, countered by the delicacy of high pitched bells.

There is a trance-like quality to Verisimilitude but it is infused with sanguine sense of purpose. Sorey, Smythe and Tordini are perfectly happy to lead us down blind alleys with a less than straight-forward step. Perhaps, Sorey's greatest talent is in his ability to inspire both his bandmates and his audience without showing his hand. Verismilitude will deservedly end up on many best-of lists.

Track Listing: Cascade in Slow Motion; Flowers for Prashant; Obsidian; Algid November; Contemplating Tranquility.

Personnel: Tyshawn Sorey: batteria, percussioni; Cory Smythe: pianoforte, pianoforte giocattolo, electronica; Chris Tordini: contrabbasso.

Title: Verisimilitude | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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