Reviews that mention Kris Davis

April 7, 2018

Kris Davis/Craig Taborn

Octopus
Pyroclastic Records PR 03

Pétrole

Refined Pieces for Two Pianos

Pépin & Plume No #

176 (Chris Abrahams and Anthony Pateras)

Music in Eight Octaves

Immediata IMMO 11

Eve Risser/Kaja Draksler

To Pianos

Clean Feed CF 448 CD

Scott Walton/Tim Perkis

Applied Cryptography

pfMentum CD 106

Something In The Air: Updating the Conventional Keyboard Duo

By Ken Waxman

Although there were vogues at points from the 1930s to the 1960s for Stride and Boogie Woogie keyboard teams, piano duos have never been as prevalent in jazz as in so-called classical music. Starting in the late 18th Century these programs consisted of performances of works, by among others, Brahms, Schubert, Bartok and Ravel. More recently however with keyboardists cognizant of both notated and improvised music and standard performance configurations liberated, duo piano pieces have become more common in exploratory jazz as these sessions attest. MORE

December 6, 2017

Eric Revis

Sing Me Some Cry
Clean Feed CF 428 CD

Roberto Ottaviano Quarktet

Sideralis

Dodicilune Dischi Ed 354

Marcelo dos Reis/Eve Risser

Timeless

JACC Records 034

Tim Daisy’s Celebration Sextet

The Halfway There Suite

Relay Recordings 016

Amok Amor

We Know Not What We Do

Intakt CD 279

Something In The Air: Seven Musical Voices for the Future

By Ken Waxman

The year just ending marked one important milestone in musical history. The first so-called jazz record was issued in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB). Obviously that musical designation, which in its century of existence has gone through as many permutations and retrenchments as so-called classical music has in many centuries, is far different then the ODJB’s primitive efforts. But jazz/improvised music continues to evolve, buttressed by new voices. Here is a group of youngish improvisers who will likely still be contributing to the shape of jazz during its 125tn anniversary – and probably for years afterwards. MORE

June 6, 2016

Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus

The Distance
ECM 2484

The Who

Zoo

Auricle Aur 14+15

Carlberg/Morris/Niggenkemper/Gray

Cosmopolitan Greetings

Red Piano RPR 4699-4419-2

Eric Platz

Life After Life

Allos Documents 012

Florian Hoefner

Luminosity

Origin Records 82706

Something In The Air: Those Who Teach Can Also Play

By Ken Waxman

As shibboleths go, the hoary “those who can do, those who can’t teach,” must rank at the very top of the list. Besides libelling the majority of educators who devote themselves to the task of imparting knowledge to students, it negates the activities of those who teach and do. Here are some musicians who maintain a full-time teaching carer along with consistent gigging. MORE

March 22, 2016

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 16-20, 2015

By Ken Waxman

Story telling of the verbal and instrumental variety was an important feature of this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival. Trying out new venues such as Heritage Hall (HH), Guelph’s first black church; and the soft-seated Guelph Little Theatre (GLT), the festival added a feeling of intimacy to its innovative programming.

Front and centre with tales, tall and otherwise were two Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) members, multi-reedist Douglas Ewart and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts. Confirming the old adage that actions can speak louder than words were musicians as cerebrally intricate as Evan Parker’s soprano saxophone forays or as raucous as guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio. MORE

September 6, 2015

Ingrid Laubrock Anti House

Roulette of the Cradle
Intakt CD 252

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

After All Is Said

482 Music 482-1089

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Room

From The Region

Delmark DE 5017

Fred Frith/Evan Parker

Hello, I Must Be Going

Victo cd 128

Mary Halvorson Trio

Ghost Loop

ForTune 0010/010

Something In The Air: Many musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

As the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) settles into maturity, dependable musical choices and the vagaries of touring means that a few of the performers at this year’s bash, September 16 to 20, are featured at more than one ensemble. The happy end result is that the audience gets to sample some musicians’ skills in more than one challenging setting. MORE

July 11, 2015

Kris Davis

Save Your Breath
Clean Feed CF322 CD

By Ken Waxman

Consolidating her considerable musical gifts, Canadian-born, New York-based Kris Davis organized a uniquely constituted octet here to premiere or bolster her compositions. Confirming her range, the eight tunes are breezy and animated in spots, while looped around a dense, metal-like core. With the ensemble consisting of Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Joachim Badenhorst and Andrew Bishop playing different sized clarinets; drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nate Radley; plus Gary Versace on organ and Davis’ piano, the engendered textures frequently infer many associations, often during the same tune. MORE

January 6, 2015

3D: Dąbrowski Davis Drury

Vermilion Tree
For Tune Records 0030 021

By Ken Waxman

Ad-hoc groups made up of players from many countries are an accepted part of improvised music. What’s more significant is a CD like Vermilion Tree, where the disparate trio members create as if they’re in a long-time relationship.

The session came about because Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski spent time in New York and hooked up with local percussionist Andrew Drury and pianist Kris Davis. The result is a kaleidoscope of 14 tunes, mostly group compositions, except for five by the trumpeter and one by Drury. Some are duos between Dąbrowski and one or the other player; at around one minute each, a few merely express one thought. MORE

June 20, 2014

Label Spotlight

For Tune
By Ken Waxman

Like many projects related to improvised music, the origin of Warsaw’s FOR TUNE (Publishing House) recordings began with three jazz fans talking. Jarek Polit, vice-president of the label and one of its three full-time staffers, had been managing a record store for decades, and he was enthusiastically telling two of his regular customers about the 11-piece Power of the Horns (POH) band which hadn’t yet recorded. Similarly enthusiastic, the other two joined forces with him to present POH in a small local cub. “It was like hitting the bull’s eye,” recalls Polit. “So we thought we might create a phonographic company to implement our own ideas, and record some interesting though not commercially viable projects.” Released as a two-disc CD-DVD package, POH’s Alaman became the first For Tune in 2013. Now the catalogue is heading towards 30 releases with many more to come. MORE

April 2, 2014

Tom Rainey

Obbligato
Intakt Records CD 227

Douglas/Doxas/Swallow/Doxas

Riverside

Greenleaf Music GLM 1036

Flex Bent Braam

Lucebert

BBBCD 16

The Whammies

Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 2

Driff Records CD 1303

Braxtornette Project

Die Hochstapler

Umlaut Records ub004

Something In The Air: A New Take on Standards – Jazz and Otherwise

By Ken Waxman

Since jazz’s beginnings, the measure of a musician’s talent has not only been how well the person improvises, but also how he or she interprets standards. In the 21st century a standard song has evolved past its Tin Pan Alley origins, plus distinctive purely jazz compositions have entered the canon. But while more conservative players treat standards as immutable, the CDs here are noteworthy because their creators distinctively re-imagine standards. MORE

March 8, 2014

Artist Feature

Ingrid Laubrock
By Ken Waxman

One of the many non-American musicians who have set up shop in NYC, German-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, 43, has quickly become a presence on the local scene. But the soprano and tenor saxophonist one who was already recognized for her playing and writing elsewhere – London’s highly competitive improv scene – before she crossed the ocean permanently in 2008.

Then again, the Hundewick-raised reedist has always thrived on new situations and challenges. And as someone who didn’t start playing the saxophone until her teens she declares that “I didn't really decide that I wanted to become a musician, it more or less happened … I sort of drifted into it.” MORE

January 8, 2014

Artist Feature:

Ben Goldberg
By Ken Waxman

When Bay area clarinetist Ban Goldberg describes the creative process that constantly compels him to compose new music and seek out new collaborators, he sounds like the partner in a love affair: “When I hear someone I like, I have to play music with him or her. I need that person in my life.”

It may take a while after that first infatuation, but eventually Goldberg composes music which turns this attraction into reality. For instance the genesis of Unfold Ordinary Mind, one of his recent CDs, was the result of hearing tenor saxophone Ellery Eskelin and having a vision of having Eskelin playing alongside tenor saxophonist Rob Sudduth, a long-time Goldberg associate. “It’s a palpable feeling I have of how the music will sound,” he relates. That group, filled out by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Nels Cline, plays NYU’s Law Space this month as part of the Winter Jazz Fest; and with pianist Craig Taborn in place of Cline will be part of an extended Goldberg residency at the Stone in February. New Yorkers can also experience Goldberg in a unique January setting at Roulette, as one of four bass clarinetists in pianist Kris Davis’ octet. The reed man, who has never played with either Davis or Taborn before, says he looks forward to the challenges. “It’s scary in the right way,” he affirms. MORE

January 8, 2014

Artist Feature:

Ben Goldberg
By Ken Waxman

When Bay area clarinetist Ban Goldberg describes the creative process that constantly compels him to compose new music and seek out new collaborators, he sounds like the partner in a love affair: “When I hear someone I like, I have to play music with him or her. I need that person in my life.”

It may take a while after that first infatuation, but eventually Goldberg composes music which turns this attraction into reality. For instance the genesis of Unfold Ordinary Mind, one of his recent CDs, was the result of hearing tenor saxophone Ellery Eskelin and having a vision of having Eskelin playing alongside tenor saxophonist Rob Sudduth, a long-time Goldberg associate. “It’s a palpable feeling I have of how the music will sound,” he relates. That group, filled out by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Nels Cline, plays NYU’s Law Space this month as part of the Winter Jazz Fest; and with pianist Craig Taborn in place of Cline will be part of an extended Goldberg residency at the Stone in February. New Yorkers can also experience Goldberg in a unique January setting at Roulette, as one of four bass clarinetists in pianist Kris Davis’ octet. The reed man, who has never played with either Davis or Taborn before, says he looks forward to the challenges. “It’s scary in the right way,” he affirms. MORE

August 28, 2013

Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti House

Strong Place
Intakt CD 208

Ches Smith and These Arches

Hammered

Clean Feed CF 270 CD

Guitarist Mary Halvorson may be the connection between these two New York-centred quintet sessions, yet their striking individuality results from who’s sitting behind the drum kit. On Hammered, Ches Smith, whose experience encompasses drumming for rock bands such as Secret Chiefs 3, brings a punkish energy to an affiliation with certified New York downtowners. Meanwhile, although Strong Place is under saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock’s leadership – she also composed all the tunes – much of the disc’s definition comes from the laid-back rhythm strategy of drummer Tom Rainey, who usually fronts a trio filled out by the German-born tenor and soprano saxophonist and Halvorson. Other players on Strong Place include pianist Kris Davis, who is Canadian, and bassist John Hébert who isn’t, despite the way he spells his last name. MORE

May 13, 2013

Kris Davis

Capricorn Climber
Clean Feed CF 266 CD

Creating a cohesive program that moves from experimentation to straight-ahead swing and lush inventions – often on the same track – pianist Kris Davis outlines a series of moods on this program of her own compositions. Calgary-born Davis has made a reputation for herself as an arranger as well as a soloist and each of her compositions displays her sidefolk – some of New York’s most accomplished players – to their collective best advantage.

Take for instance Pass the Magic Hat, which starts off as a swirling and spiraling exposition for her piano plus the bass of Trevor Dunn and the drums of Tom Rainey, but soon evolves to a contrapuntal duel between her metronomic comping and Ingrid Laubrock’s pulsating tenor saxophone. A spikier secondary theme developed by violist Mat Maneri arrives, eventually to be harmonized with piano and reed slurs. On the other hand, Bottom of the Well is a cohesive recital-styled track with low-pitched piano clunks underscoring the chromatic string sets. Before a legato finale, Dunn vibrates a solo in the cello-range while the violist harshly rubs his strings. With Davis’ narrative literally more low-key and impressionistic, Pi is Irrational balances Maneri’s tremolo stridency with Rainey’s rugged ruffs and taps, until Laubrock’s gentling arpeggios presage a brief, rhythmically sophisticated bass solo. MORE

June 10, 2012

Kris Davis

Aeriol Piano
Clean Feed CF 233 CD

Agustí Fernández

El laberint dfe la memòria

Mbari Musica MBARI 04

Denman Maroney

Double Zero

Porter Records PRCD-4063

Simon Nabatov

Spinning Songs of Herbie Nichols

Leo Records CD LR 632

Something In The Air: Solo Piano Strategies

By Ken Waxman

Solo playing has always been the make-or-break yardstick for pianists of any genre. That’s solo playing not playing solo, an important distinction which differentiates between exhibiting showy breaks and having an overall musical plan for the mini-orchestra this is at his or her fingertips. The solo challenge is more pronounced for improvisers since even if they’re interpreting compositions, originality is the paramount concern. These challenges don’t prevent pianists from trying their hands at solo sessions. But it’s instructive to note that the memorable ones, such as the piano dates here by an American, a Canadian, a Catalan and a Russian, use different strategies to attain matchless quality. MORE

February 5, 2012

Tony Malaby’s

Novela
Clean Feed CF 232

Olaf Rupp/Joe Williamson/Tony Buck

Weird Weapons 2

Creative Sources CS197 CD

Splice

LAB

Loop Records 1013

Bioni-Solberg-Brow

Hopscotch

ILK 179 CD

Something In The Air:

Expat Canadians Create High-Class Improv

By Ken Waxman

Almost from the time the professional music business was established in this country, the expected route for success has been for artists to head off to the larger market down south and set up shop there. Canadians from Percy Faith and Maynard Ferguson to Joni Mitchell and Teresa Stratas effectively followed that formula. But today, as American musical hegemony lessens and modern communications almost literally shrink the world, musicians, especially those who play improvised music, can demonstrate that a permanent home in Europe is as beneficial as becoming an American resident. MORE

October 6, 2010

SKM

Three
Clean Feed CF 189 CD

By Ken Waxman

Stretching herself musically by playing with a variety of local bands, including her own, Canadian-born, New York-based pianist Kris Davis reaches a pinnacle of sorts with this almost completely improvised outing, as part of a co-op trio, whose other member are as busy as she. Luckily bassist Michael Bisio and tenor saxophonist Stephen Gauci have developed similarly simpatico interactions, often working as sidemen in each other’s groups.

Still Three is different. Lacking the dominant beats a drummer would bring to the session, the three take turns assaying the rhythm function, with the saxophonist’s harsh vibrations and unexpected chord substations as crucial as the bassist’s string slapping and pumping or the pianist’s jagged percussive patterns. Similarly, bravura technical skills mixed with fearless invention take the place of any expected chord progressions they would rely on in other situations. If weaknesses are exposed, it’s because at times the ad hoc structure prevents at least one of the trio from outputting more than token comping or obbligatos. This is apparent on a tune like the otherwise stellar “Groovin’ for the Hell of It”. Slyly subverting the title’s promise, rhythmic impetus is expressed through foot pedal weight and key banging from Davis that bring the piano’s lowest quadrant into play, plus tremolo vibrations and pressurized reed bites from Gauci. Bisio appears MIA. However he makes up for this elsewhere, when contrasting dynamics are expressed through his step-by-step walking that often shadows Guaci’s jagged saxophone slurs, or when his muscular bass slaps complement Davis’ almost outrageously syncopated lines. MORE

November 2, 2009

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel
Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?
Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York
Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche
Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

February 8, 2009

Mostly Other People Do the Killing

This Is Our Moosic
Hot Cup 082

Jon Irabagon

Outright!

Innova Records 699

Alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who migrated from suburban Chicago to Astoria, Queens, working with different bands in clubs and studying music along the way, won the 21st annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last October. On the evidence of these CDs, it’s easy to see why.

Possessed of an upfront style, strong chops and a thorough understanding of the tradition, Irabagon composes swinging and sometimes complex tunes and is a mainstream polymath who obviously impressed representatives of the jazz establishment who hand out awards. No show-boater, the reedist takes only slightly more solo space on his debut session as he gets on This Is Our Moosic and is surrounded on both discs by the highest grade of young New York-centred talent. Overall though, he fares better as one interlocking clog of bassist Moppa Elliott’s extravagantly named Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK), then on his own. MORE

February 8, 2009

Jon Irabagon

Outright!
Innova Records 699

Mostly Other People Do the Killing

This Is Our Moosic

Hot Cup 082

Alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who migrated from suburban Chicago to Astoria, Queens, working with different bands in clubs and studying music along the way, won the 21st annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last October. On the evidence of these CDs, it’s easy to see why.

Possessed of an upfront style, strong chops and a thorough understanding of the tradition, Irabagon composes swinging and sometimes complex tunes and is a mainstream polymath who obviously impressed representatives of the jazz establishment who hand out awards. No show-boater, the reedist takes only slightly more solo space on his debut session as he gets on This Is Our Moosic and is surrounded on both discs by the highest grade of young New York-centred talent. Overall though, he fares better as one interlocking clog of bassist Moppa Elliott’s extravagantly named Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK), then on his own. MORE