Thursday, March 18, 2021

Hafez Modirzadeh - Facets (Pi-Recordings, 2021)

Tenor saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh engages in meditative and thoughtful duet performances with three fellow seekers, piano players Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey (well known as a composer and percussionist, but also a talented  pianist) and Craig Taborn. Modirzadeh experiments with different ways of playing his instrument, but it remains accessible with a pure and natural sounding tone that suits this project well. He also has the piano re-tuned in such a manner the musicians are freed to explore all of the musical possibilities available. The complex nuts and bolts preparation of the music is well beyond my ken as a casual listener, but will no doubt fascinate Modirzadeh's fellow musicians, and it is explained at length in the liner notes an on the label's website. On a deep listening level, the enjoyment comes from hearing these musicians work together in open space. There are a few purely solo performances, but the most interesting moments include Kris Davis Frankensteining together a couple of Thelonious Monk themes and improvising on them to create a new performance on “Facet 34 Defracted.” Vijay Iyer is quoted as saying about this album, “a collective meditation, an unlocking of forms and truths” which is really interesting, because we often talk about collective improvisation especially in regard to free jazz, but this idea opens a way for quiet improvisation as a way to explore inner space as much as fiery free improvisation explores outer space. So in the end I think this album works well as a thoughtful and involving listening album for jazz fans, and presumably a work that is worthy of study for musicians and students. Facets - amazon.com

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