Posts Tagged ‘Drew Gress’

Six Picks: August 2013

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, August 2013:

Jim Black, Antiheroes (Winter & Winter)

Drew Gress, The Sky Inside (Pirouet)

Geoffrey Keezer, Heart of the Piano (Motéma)

Chris Morrissey, North Hero (Sunnyside)

Gary Peacock & Marilyn Crispell, Azure (ECM)

Eric Revis, City of Asylum (Clean Feed)

On Luis Perdomo

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

This review appears in the September 2012 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.

Luis Perdomo
Universal Mind (RKM)

By David R. Adler

On Universal Mind, his fourth outing as a leader, pianist Luis Perdomo embraces a hard-swinging piano trio aesthetic, mixing it up with bassist Drew Gress and Jack DeJohnette. It’s a logical move: his 2006 disc Awareness was also steeped in trio modernism, even avant-gardism (with a double rhythm section on five of the tracks). His 2008 Criss Cross date Pathways, also with trio, combined originals with songbook standards and a Bud Powell classic. This time the opener is Joe Henderson’s “Tetragon,” an angular midtempo blues from 1968, just the thing to break the ice. (It so happens that DeJohnette played on Henderson’s Tetragon album, but not on the title track.)

There’s a polished virtuosity, a smoothness of execution, to be heard on Perdomo’s earlier efforts, particularly his work with bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Eric McPherson. The interplay on Universal Mind is lumpier, more off-centered, thanks largely to the rousing, relentless churn of DeJohnette’s drums. Keith Jarrett’s trio is a reference point, although it has worked for decades; the Universal Mind session, by contrast, was Perdomo and DeJohnette’s first-ever encounter.

The newness has musical benefits, of course. Two improvised piano-drum duets (“Unified Path” I & II) yield strong, semi-abstract results. “Tin Can Alley,” originally a vehicle for DeJohnette’s band Special Edition, harks back to the midtempo strut of “Tetragon” but with a more complex written theme. Perdomo’s originals range from the lyrical, harmonically spare “Langnau” and “Just Before,” to the waltz “Above the Storm,” to the polyrhythmic burners “Gene’s Crown” and “Doppio.” His “Rebellious Contemplation” seems to start in mid-thought with ferocious eight-bar trades, working up to a twisty and unexpected coda.

It takes high skill to spar with DeJohnette and not get overpowered or upstaged. Perdomo thrives under the pressure. Whether or not his relationship with DeJohnette takes further root, he’s advanced his art considerably with this fine release.

On Gerald Cleaver

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

This review appears in the March 2011 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

Gerald Cleaver’s Uncle June
Be It As I See It (Fresh Sound New Talent)

By David R. Adler

It’s scarcely an exaggeration to say that drummer Gerald Cleaver can play everything: from the down-the-middle postbop of Jeremy Pelt to the free-blowing fury of Charles Gayle, to the pellucid soundscapes of Miroslav Vitous and more. Cleaver is an artist belonging to no camp, and this explains much about the stunning individuality of Be It As I See It, his third Fresh Sound release.

“To Love,” with its pumping rock beat and anarchic tonal mishmash (Cleaver shouts the song title out loud at various points), sounds virtually nothing like the remainder of the album — quite a stark choice for an opener. Following this, “Charles Street Sunrise” is already a world away, with a dark, dissonant mood and slow-moving legato tones from Andrew Bishop’s flute and Drew Gress’s arco bass. Oddly, the piece slips into a clear tempo toward the end but then quickly fades out. Later in the program, “Charles Street Quotidian” picks up the thread, as the same motive from the fadeout blossoms into a full piece. The continuity is striking, and Cleaver strengthens this narrative aspect of the music with an extended suite called “Fence & Post,” which stretches to fill nearly half the album.

Craig Taborn’s brilliant acoustic piano flights (“Gremmy,” “22 Minutes”) and alien keyboard and organ murmurings (“The Lights,” “Statues / Umbra”) loom large. So do the individual solo voices and sectional counterpoint of Mat Maneri on viola, Tony Malaby on tenor and soprano and Andrew Bishop on multi-reeds. These are loyal allies of Cleaver’s: Taborn, Maneri and Bishop appeared on the drummer’s 2001 debut Adjust; Bishop returned for Gerald Cleaver’s Detroit in 2008; and Cleaver’s co-led trio projects with Lotte Anker (saxophone) and William Parker (bass) both feature Taborn in the piano chair.

Beyond this strongly unified core of a band, Cleaver tosses in wild-card elements like the noisy guitar of Ryan Macstaller, spicy banjo from Andy Taub (who engineered and mixed the album), and the left-field vocals of Jean Carla Rodea and John Cleaver (the leader’s father, also a drummer). The disparate streams feed into a surging river, a music full of nerve and murky beauty.