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...


Gabriel Zucker: Weighting

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
If ever there was a novelist whose work seems ideally suited for musical expression, it would be Rachel Kushner. With phrases that jump off the page with infectious energy and themes that reveal themselves fleetingly and mysteriously, her books swirl with ideas, but always with the unmistakable impression that are deeper truths yet to be found beneath the surface. It's precisely these attributes that make pianist Gabriel Zucker's hour-long suite, Weighting, a similar exercise in discovery and wonder, as he draws his inspiration from Kushner's 2013 novel The Flamethrowers.

Zucker has an extensive background in classical music, and he often performs twentieth century repertoire as a concert pianist. But his jazz credentials are equally as noteworthy, whether it involves working with drummer Gabriel Globus-Hoenich in the pared-down jazz duo No Reference for Taste or his larger ensemble, The Delegation, which includes trumpeter Adam O'Farrill and saxophonist Eric Trudell, both of whom are present on Weighting. Completing the quartet here is the inimitable Tyshawn Sorey, whose range and creativity as a percussionist is virtually unmatched in today's world of improvised music. Together the four musicians explore Zucker's unique dreamworld with a distinctive combination of precision and freedom.

The eight pieces are integrally connected, so the album is best appreciated start-to-finish, ideally in one sitting. And it's a well-conceived suite, to be sure, with sharply-defined themes present right from the opening, "Would It Come Back to You," where O'Farrill and Trudel begin the recording by teasing out some of the central ideas of the suite through lines running in tandem and in counterpoint, before Sorey and Zucker enter with a thunderous explosion of intensity. The driving urgency of the music is perfect in capturing the manic momentum of Kushner's writing, which in The Flamethrowers depicts a world in flux, whether it involves the obsession of speed in motorcycle racing or the bizarre complexities of conceptual art or the revolutionary politics of 70s-era Italy.

But although the music has its delightfully robust moments, the most captivating qualities of the album are frequently its more elusive ones: gauzy segments in which one's grasp of the music is seemingly secure, only to have it slip away into dissolution. Sorey's role is pivotal in this regard, as he often supplements his conventional role behind the kit for his usual array of percussive effects. Also crucial are the post-production decisions by Zucker and Chris Connors, which add layers of sonic texture to the music that enhance its oblique beauty.

Lest one get the impression that Zucker's experimental ambition overrides the simple joys of the music, however, it's worth stressing that at its core this is most certainly a jazz album, with a deep sense of groove, melodic clarity and improvisational vigor. When the quartet dig in with abandon on "The Stream of New York," for instance, and Trudel soars alongside O'Farrill while Sorey and Zucker raise the intensity to a howl, the results are stunning. And just as moving are the moments of tranquil reverie, where Zucker's ability to craft a lyrical phrase is on full display, whether through the horns' plaintive lament or Zucker's own delicate, graceful flourishes.

It's a magical recording, and one that should garner the heightened attention that Zucker and his colleagues rightly deserve.

Track Listing: Part I. Soul: Would It Come Back to You?; The Uselessness of Truth/Not to Be Anything More; The Stream of New York/and art, of course; Part II. Appointments: Missing Our Appointments With Each Other; What’s left (when we are always honest)/The Future Was a Place; Part III. Stones: a movie, a lover; Dissimulation/Not Knowing It at the Time; the stones in my pockets.

Personnel: Gabriel Zucker: piano, compositions; Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Eric Trudel: tenor saxophone; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Title: Weighting | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: ESP Disk


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.

Related Articles

Read We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration Album Reviews
We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
By Mark Corroto
April 25, 2019
Read Golem Dance Album Reviews
Golem Dance
By Friedrich Kunzmann
April 25, 2019
Read New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4 Album Reviews
New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4
By Dan Bilawsky
April 24, 2019
Read Open Form For Society Album Reviews
Open Form For Society
By Mark Corroto
April 24, 2019
Read Yes Album Reviews
By John Sharpe
April 24, 2019
Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019