Label/Year: Pi Recordings, 2017
Lineup - Cory Smythe: piano, electronics; Chris Tordini: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums, percussion.
As one of the most innovative, consistent, and in-demand drummers on the current scene, Tyshawn Sorey always brings something bold and new to the projects he’s involved in, whether as a leader or a sideman.
After the complex yet absorbing musical poetry of last year’s unclassifiable The Inner Spectrum of Variables, Sorey is back with Verisimilitude, another spontaneous body of work full of unlimited ideas and conceived to be played in a malleable trio with pianist Cory Smythe and bassist Chris Tordini.
The opening tune, “Cascades in Slow Motion”, is also the shortest on the album and mirrors exactly what its title suggests as it dives in an apparent textural fragility that is progressively denied by Sorey’s decisive solidification of the rhythmic basis. Smythe’s regular moves anchor in inconsolable voicings for the final moments.
Like a classical mourning chant that wouldn’t embarrass Chopin or Debussy, “Flowers for Prashant” walks at snail’s pace through Smythe’s intriguing and tactile combinations of granular notes, intervallic cadences put out by relentless left-hand movements, and perplexing phrases and chords.
Those uncertain ways develop into sinister vibes on “Obsidian”, an 18-minute volatility that simulates utopian molecular activities through organized layers of sound. Electronic manipulations serve as points of departure, evolving into organic statements delivered conjointly by pianist and drummer, whose actions oscillate between static and dynamic. Tordini appears in the middle, soloing aplomb, but his speech is ultimately engulfed by Smythe’s low-tone hammering and the bandleader’s mystifying tribal artifacts. This is a tune that piques your imagination and turns your senses widely alert.
With almost 31 minutes of unstoppable instrumental exploration over a fluctuant, improvised ground, the Homeric “Algid November” lives from vital sonic elements that include several percussion effects, atmospheric vagueness, paradoxical piano incursions, and small, controlled explosions of variable intensity and purpose. The trio becomes delightfully melodious at some point in the middle of this intriguing trajectory, breaking the currents of ambiguity and shaping its sound with more accessible procedures. Another particular stage of this tune comprises multiple nuanced piano ostinatos accompanied by percussive chimes and offbeat drum punches. One can also hear different kinds of chimes, gongs, and cymbal splashes on “Contemplating Tranquility”, the wide but still tangible closing piece.
Defying every attempt of music categorization and declining musical conventions, Tyshawn Sorey takes a traditional piano jazz trio to another level through his crepuscular, unconventional creativity. This music is not instantly absorbed. It’s a slow infusion of intricate sounds that cross, connect, and live for real.
02 - Flowers for Prashant ► 03 - Obsidian ► 04 - Algid November