Kris Davis - Duopoly


Kris Davis: piano; Bill Frisell: guitar; Julian Lage: guitar; Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Don Byron: clarinet; Craig Taborn: piano; Angelica Sanchez: piano; Billy Drummond: drums; Marcus Gilmore: drums.

Kris Davis is a forward-thinker Canadian pianist and composer who has combined innovation and sophistication in the modern music universe. Displaying an uncompromising style and unique musical trademarks, Davis is a confessed adept of exquisite linear notes in detriment of traditional chords.
Her new album, Duopoly, is a fantastic follow-up to the well-accepted Save Your Breath, gathering eight irreverent improvisers – guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage, pianists Craig Taborn and Angelica Sanchez, drummers Billy Drummond and Marcus Gilmore, and reedists Tim Berne and Don Byron - with whom she plays two duets each. The tracks' alignment obeys to some rules, in a sort of mirror distribution. The first eight pieces are written material while the last eight, adopting the names of the guest musicians as titles, are totally improvised.

The guitarists are responsible for the most enjoyable pieces. In “Prairie Eyes”, the unmatchable Bill Frisell knocks us out with his typical folk-jazz approach. His alluring sound comes from the eccentricity of the chords and the incredible choice of notes. Davis’ flowing left-hand ostinato is an essential key for this cinematic merge of mystery and beauty. And what a dark lyricism they create!
Collaborating with the pianist for the very first time, Julian Lage excels in a different way, playing his acoustic 1939 Martin in “Surf Curl”. He does it with mastery and intelligence, taking advantage of Davis’ rhythmic stimulus.

Two pianos being played simultaneously can be weird and we have that sensation from time to time when listening to the creative soundscapes of the nebulous “Fox Fire”, which makes us ask the question: are Davis and Taborn twin pianists? Not really, but their lines of vision are full of intersections. “Beneath the Leaves”, composed and co-performed by Angelica Sanchez, compresses classical, avant-garde, and flamenco sketches into the same recipient.

Now, the drummers! Billy Drummond is featured in “Eronel”, a cool piece that Monk co-wrote. Responsive and classy, Drummond manages to find the best way to accompany Davis’ textural rambles. 
Eric McPherson’s skittish drumming creates unrestrained steam in “Dig & Dump”.

Pushing the limits of compulsiveness, “Trip Dance for Tim” invites the irreverence of Tim Berne, who neither curbs nor shies away when manipulating extended techniques to thrill. The almost unrecognizable rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss”, apart from some dispersion, infuses an attractive romanticism.
From the improvised pieces, which still follow a logic structure, I was particularly impressed with “Tim Berne” and “Julian Lage”.

The 16 tracks of Duopoly, probing action-reaction reflexes, certificate Kris Davis as one of the most brilliant pianists around. Due to an elastic approach, her textural densities enlarge and shrink in favor of the circumstances. We’re before a charming, present-day jazz of elevated artistry.

         Grade  A

         Grade A

Favorite Tracks: 
01 – Prairie Eyes ► 02 – Surf Curl ► 05 – Eronel

Frank Kimbrough - Solstice

Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.

Frank Kimbrough - Solstice

Frank Kimbrough is a fulfilling pianist, a precious element of the New York jazz scene, who deserves the accolade for his musical capabilities, shown both as a bandleader and sideman. His influences range from Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans to Paul Bley and Andrew Hill. Recognized bandleaders such as Maria Schneider, Dewey Redman, Michael Blake, Ted Nash, and Ben Allison, with whom he co-led the Herbie Nichols Project, elevated his pianistic talents within their own projects.
Solstice, Kimbrough’s first album on Pirouet after a longtime association with Palmetto, adopts the introspective moods of the Bill Evans trio as it explores the music of composers such as Maria Schneider, Annette Peacock, Andrew Hill, George Gershwin, Carla Bley, Paul Motian, and Maryanne de Prophetis.

Bley’s “Seven”, a pensive ballad that offers us a quasi-soluble melody over complacent, simplistic textures was the chosen tune to open the album. 
The next move is no less than bewildering: “Here Come the Honey Man” is a Gershwin tune that doesn’t sound like Gershwin. The imminent electricity of Hirshfield’s cymbal work, together with Anderson’s encouraging bass lines, enriches the bandleader’s strong harmonic passages and contemplative lyricism.
The title track, composed by de Prophetis is a sluggish, dreamlike 3/4-meter piece that features Anderson’s bass solo.

With drums and bass solos right after the head as a special attraction, Motian’s “The Sunflower” reclines in the abstraction while Kimbrough’s unique composition, “Question’s the Answer”, is one of the most satisfying. It moves at a reverberant 6/8 time, guaranteeing inquisitiveness and expressiveness in considerable proportions. Clearly, the trio was more concerned with the overall sound they may extract than with any type of individual ride.
The recording’s couple last tunes deserve to be mentioned for their intensity and powerful interplay. “El Cordobes”, composed by Annette Peacock, was assembled with an incisive groove at the base, involving us with the stirring vibes poured from the interesting rhythmic and melodic ideas generated. Maria Schneider’s sweet ballad “Walking by Flashlights” opposes to the latter tune by irradiating warmth and serenity. 

The untroubled condition in Solstice invites us to meditate, suggesting tolerance as it breathes comfortably at every note. It describes mostly peaceful atmospheres as it attempts to convey that the world and we are seen as one. This is a ruminative work that the ones looking for quality would be content to discover…

Favorite Tracks:
06 – Question’s the Answer ► 07 – El Cordobes ► 09 – Walking by Flashlights