Label/Year: Clean Feed, 2017
Lineup - Zack Clarke: piano, electronics; Henry Fraser: double bass; Dre Hocevar: drums.
Emergent pianist Zack Clarke is constantly searching for brilliant textures to be delivered at the perfect moment. He does this by linking up creative melodic lines with titillating voicings and instinctive intervals with the intention of firstly build up tension and then release it. Operating with his reliable peers, bassist Henry Fraser and drummer Dre Hocevar, Clarke opens up new musical paths using both simple and complex processes.
Random Acts of Order, his debut album comprising only originals, holds a suggestive title since the impromptu lives within a well-founded structural order. This doesn’t mean that exploration is blocked. On the contrary, Clarke explores with logic in order to establish clear perspectives of the scenarios he imagines.
The opening piece, “Before The Cause” is sunken in abstract minimalism and wrapped in noisy shadiness.
“Act 1” is a daintily articulated piece that brims with shifting symmetries and sparkling motivic figures installed on top of a controlled agitation mounted by bass and drums. While Fraser keeps alternating between bowing with mystery and plucking with a groovy pulse, Clarke hits the keys with speedy eloquence to form whirls of sound, often triggering ascendant chordal movements that look back at Chick Corea’s chapter of Now He Sings Now He Sobs.
This music concept is interrupted when we listen to “Elements”, an abstract, atmospheric composition evincing static noise in the background and emulating watery sounds that quickly transports us to humid and swamping landscapes.
Static tension is also served up in “Act 2”, a spinning emancipation of self-expression that penetrates our ears with captivating exclamations and melodic zigzags.
Conspicuous modern classical movements belong to “Low Gardens”, a composition that merges different musical backgrounds to define obfuscatory scenarios enhanced with dramatic poise. On this tune, Clarke’s classy pianism and prodigious facility unravel consecutive piano trills that, joining the ominous bowed bass and effervescent drumming, become exceptional points of departure for free rambles built with patience and heading nowhere in particular.
“Up On The High” is an eventful joyride that starts with advancing piano drifts á-la Paul Bley, responsive rhythms, and timid bass screeches, but evolves into an unflinching, proud groove that supports well-versed pianistic textures. Even relying on particular rigid ideas, expectation never abandons the trio’s juncture.
The session ends with “Dee”, a passive yet striking solo piano piece that captivates through beautiful if morose melodic passages.
Contemporary jazz lovers who still don’t know Zack Clarke have in Random Acts of Order a great opportunity to visit strange musical territories and find out how prominent structural alignments sustain adequate amounts of dynamic exploration and experimentation.
02 - Act 1 ► 05 - Up On The High ► 07 - Dee