Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kris Davis - Massive Threads (Thirsty Ear, 2014)

Pianist and composer Kris Davis has made a big impact on the jazz scene in a very short time. Completely at home playing either traditional or progressive jazz, she is at her best when combining the two. She is able to use her own personal conception of music that comes to the fore most clearly on “Ten Exorcists” where she keeps repeating a hypnotic percussive pattern like musical Morse code. There are several rhythms going on at once, so it is hard to discern whether she is using overdubs or is just a master at juggling different lines of musical thought. She uses fast stabbing notes that resolve into a fractured fantasia of piano, played both inside and outside the instrument. On the title track “Massive Threads” there is a light rainfall of piano notes to begin this piece sounding excellent and becoming fast enough to leave the listener disoriented (in a good way) before giving way to storming thunderclouds of bass chords. Davis works with dynamism quite well, from loud ringing slabs of bass end of the piano to soft and enigmatic. Short fragments and improvisations including a spare version of Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence” are woven between the longer sections building the music into a coherent whole. Massive Threads -

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