Saturday, September 23, 2023

Tyshawn Sorey's Trio: "Continuing" w/ Aaron Diehl and Matt Brewer

Tyshawn Sorey Trio : Continuing- Pi Recordings

The drummer/composer/arranger Tyshawn Sorey never ceases to impress. This time his trio of Aaron Diehl on piano and Matt Brewer on bass released Continuing on Pi Recordings at the end of June and it takes a deliberate, thoughtful, sometimes slow simmer approach to make its artistic point. Sorey has one of the most creative musical minds out there today. He seems to reinforce this notion with each of his successive releases like this one on the heels of his 2022  highly acclaimed Mesmerism and The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism

On Continuing, Sorey and his bandmates take three songs culled from the canon of some recently passed masters' artwork. Wayne Shorter's "Reincarnation Blues" was first heard on Art Blakey's 1962 Buhaina's Delight,  pianist Ahmad Jamal's "Selertus"first heard life on Jamal's 1958 release Portfolio of Ahmad Jamal, and  "In What Direction Are You Headed" from Sorey's mentor Harold Mabern, to whom this album is dedicated. The one outlier is the Earl K. Brent/Matt Dennis classic "Angel Eyes," which was from the 1953 film Jennifer where Dennis, the songwriter, played piano and performed it for the first time. The song later became part of the canon when it was picked up by jazz artists like Dave Brubeck, Jim Hall, Gene Ammons, and Chris Conner to name a few. 

What is beautiful about this album is the care and extended time that these terrifically sympathetic musicians take to develop their expressive musical interpretations of these gems.

Starting with Shorter's "Reincarnation Blues," the trio takes this hard bop tune and gives it a slow blues saunter of a rhythm with a metronomic feel. The music is brilliantly walked by Brewer and cadenced to perfection by Sorey. Diehl's slowly developed harmonic ideas are explorative and spare, but yet never lack in grabbing your attention. At about the 3:58 mark, Brewer offers a probing bass solo that is responded to by Sorey's selective percussive responses. The group punctuates the music with a sense of increased intensity at the 7:07 min mark. They raise the heat dynamically as Diehl's piano erupts with a gush of notes, Sorey's drum work percolates with intention, and Brewer's bass pulses like a throbbing organ.  There is an alloy-like quality to the way these three musicians interact, almost like being fused on the neurological level.

With Jamal's "Seletrtus," we find Sorey and Brewer creating a march-like cadence that sets the tone. Diehl chordally sets a line that has Brewer responding with an alternative take on his buoyant bass. The trio keeps the repeated line like a backdrop to some exploratory bass work by Brewer and syncopated lines by Sorey. Diehl ascends the line with climbing chord work that urges Sorey and Brewer to increase the pace. Sorey's drum work is incredible, a multi-tonal,  kinetic feast of rhythmic invention. Diehl's work is resplendent carrying the music over the magically enticing rhythmic feast. 

Sorey's "Angel Eyes" is a veritable reinvention of this classic. It simply captivates you. The pace is slow, real slow, and languishing, like an instrumental being given a provocative Shirley Horn treatment, and no less effective than her unique way of making a song all her own. Brewer is given high marks for being able to keep this lazy pace without ever losing the time. Diehl spells out the melody with precise notes that just hang like gorgeously ripe grapes on a fall-season vineyard arbor. Sorey judiciously uses his cymbals to great effect, tickling rhythm from subtle, swirling sounds. These guys bring new possibilities as to how you might listen to this song. Wordless music that speaks volumes. It's like a love affair with this melody. They carry it for almost fourteen intentional minutes and they make you believe that you maybe never really heard this song the way it was supposed to be played before.

Harold Mabern's "In What Direction Are You Headed" is a gospel-inspired, soul-drenched finger-snapping song. Brewer lays a circular line that holds down the vamp. Diehl lays out a wandering pianistic exploration. Sorey's rotating drum work is overflowing with vibrancy and drive. The music has an organic life of all its own offering tinkling piano keys that just float, staccato rolling bass lines that circle like a clock mechanism, and built on a relentless flurry of percussion that just drives this anthem throughout.

The Tyshawn Sorey Trio's Continuing is certainly worth several listens to appreciate just how rewarding reimagined music can be in the right hands.