May 31, 2007
High Two HT 008
Most song-oriented of the post-Cecil Taylor pianists, Dave Burrell has been involved with theatre as well he wrote a so-far un-mounted opera in 1978 so Momentum plays to both his strengths.
Backed for the first time by drummer Guillermo Brown from David S. Wares quartet and Tim Berne-associate Michael Formanek on bass, the pianists eight originals either reference the classic modern jazz piano tradition or are interpolations from the score he composed for Body and Soul, Oscar Micheauxs 1925 race movie.
The extent of the trios partnership is glimpsed on Cool Reception, the adjective of which refers more to attitude than temperature. At first, the pianist slowly unrolls a loping, andante melody as Brown sounds perfectly spaced metronomic accents and Formanek adds pizzicato coloration. During the course of the almost nine-minute track, as Burrell sashays the relaxed line into stop-time patterns, the others ingeniously speed up the tempo, freeing the bassist to construct a swift contrapuntal solo. Seemingly dusting the keyboard to produce tremolo cadences, Burrell eventually unites each mans rhythmic output into an on-target finale.
Representing Micheauxs silent melodrama which starred Paul Robeson as a con man/preacher who robs his adoring flock and destroys an innocent woman, Burrells underscore spurns Twenties recreation for modernistic motifs. For instance, while 4:30 to Atlanta, which reflects the heroines sad end, contains honky-tonk echoes plus a walking bass line, its also animated with steady forward motion. As cymbal clacks and drum pops suggest locomotive activity, Burrells low-frequency passing tones recap and personalize the initial theme.
Momentum is just that, a CD that adds momentum to the 66-year-old pianists still vibrant career.
CODA Issue 333