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Matt Mitchell: Vista Accumulation

Mark Corroto By

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Growing up in a neighborhood, how do you get from, "Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!" to "Congratulations, Mr. Mitchell, on your son winning the Doris Duke Impact award and being named a Pew Fellow"? We are talking about the musical, not the suburban neighborhood here and in seemingly a blink of an eye, pianist Matt Mitchell is ubiquitous.

His keyboard touch can be heard in the ensemble Snakeoil led by Tim Berne, Rudresh Mahanthappa's Birdcalls, Dave Douglas' quintet, and in the Darius Jones Quartet. He is also on call for artists like Mario Pavone, Anna Webber and John Hollenbeck. The reason for his employment by all of the above talented composers themselves, is Mitchell's own musical choreography, as evidenced on his previous disc Fiction (Pi, 2013). There he presented 15 mostly short musical études in duo with drummer Ches Smith.

On Vista Accumulation he expands on his own writing making his music into lengthy intricate forays into new composition and jazz improvisation. Listening, you may wonder how Mitchell and, vicariously, you have arrived at this place. His music draws from his experiences with the band leaders mentioned above, especially Berne, Mahanthappa and Webber. Berne's touch can be heard in parts of the opener "Select Your Existence" and "Utensil Strength." Perhaps that is why he employs saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed here, a former member of Berne's band Bloodcount. Then there is also drummer Dan Weiss, a fine composer in his own right, and bassist Chris Tordini.

Each piece is a mini-symphony, with a coordinated organic growth. Mitchell writes music that is sometimes crowded, sometimes elegantly simple. What is evident here is that the pianist was intent on creating a major statement—one that cannot be simply background sound. The experience here requires a committed concentration, which is warranted by the rewards of that consideration.

Track Listing: Disc 1: Select Your Existence; All the Elasticity; Numb Trudge; ‘twouldn’t’ve. Disc 2: Utensil Strength; Wearing the Wig of Atrophy; Hyper Pathos; The Damaged Center

Personnel: Matt Mitchell: piano; Chris Speed: tenor sax and clarinet; Christopher Tordini: bass; Dan Weiss: drums.

Title: Vista Accumulation | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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