Joel Futterman/Michael Wimberly

June 5, 2024

JDF 15


Although it may seem like a contradiction. Joel Futterman is maintaining the genus of spontaneous piano creativity while finding new modes of expression. Known for his long-time association with Kidd Jordan, Virginia-based Futterman is in the line of other improvising pianists such as Cecil Taylor and Borgan Bergman. Like them, nascent collaborations are part of his MO which is how this striking set with New York drummer Michael Wimberly came about. Wimberly who has a history with players as different as Charles Gayle and Nels Cline bring trigger fast responses to this first-time meeting.

Blending free association, stream of consciousness and multi-directional playing, InnerPause’s two extended parts, capture the same creative impulses but at slightly different lengths. What they share in common however is that the pianist’s skill at creating prestissimo jumps and emphasized cadences take up only part of the program. Exciting from the beginning just as it seems that an unstoppable unrolling of emphasized and repetitive keyboard patterns define the narratives, Futterman suddenly detours to slower paced timbres from both sides of the keyboard. These interludes introduce melodies alongside the already crammed multiple tones, and in  balladic fashion add a tinge of the pastoral to what otherwise would come across as dynamic expositions without respite. Furthermore at other junctures besides spiky intensity, stop-time motifs and dedicated turnarounds, swing sections are heard, briefly replacing the processional charges with paced cadences

Discreet, but not deferential, Wimberly’s careful listening deduces the perfect time for him to dynamically color the expositions with percussion inserts. These take the shape of ruffs, rolls and cymbal shakes that arise in tandem with Futterman’s bouncing dynamics, or more subtly bridge the few space left by the piano onslaught with careful clangs, bass drum pops or restrained rumbles.

Because of the interface – and the profound but infrequent pivots to swing and sleekness – neither track is overbearing or impenetrable. Pressure may mount, intensity may double, glissandi may speed up and string together tune fragments into a steamrolled whole, but control remains paramount from both players. In fact both parts conclude with slowed down single note endings. Confirming the interactive skills and adaptability of Futterman and Wimberly, this CD suggests that this inner pause that refreshes could be repeated and/or involve different partners.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. InnerPause  Part 1 2. InnerPause Part 2

Personnel: Joel Futterman (piano) and Michael Wimberly (drums and percussion)