Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bobby Few - Lights and Shadows (Boxholder, 2007)

Pianist Bobby Few came out of the fertile Cleveland jazz scene which was wide open with swing, bop and free (and would send Albert Ayler into the jazz world.) After following Ayler to New York in the mid-1960's, Few decamped to Europe for many years, playing with soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy among others. On this particular disc, Few is playing solo piano, sounding very deep and thoughtful, reminiscent to contemporaries like Andrew Hill and Cecil Taylor in his quieter moments. "Bells" opens the disc, not the epic Ayler composition, but a spontaneous improvisation of Few's own, sounding dark, spacious and mysterious. These feelings also occur in further performances like "Enomis" and "From Different Lands" where the overall feeling is probing and careful, spare and open. The longer improvisations are interesting as well. "Lights and Shadows" is a strong, lengthy improvisation with rippling pianism using the whole instrument in the course of the performance. "What You Doing?" has a building sound of low bass notes and a deep and probing structure, like a space probe searching through the depths of intergalactic space. I liked this disc and found it to have thoughtful and patient performances that did not rely on flashy technique by rather a deep understanding of the instrument and improvisation.

Send comments to: Tim