Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kris Davis, Capricorn Climber

Kris Davis is seemingly content to follow a direction that brings her music to a place all hers. And why not? Perhaps that music is not one typically played in the smoky, funky jazz clubs of yesteryear, with their modicum of tourists, drunks and traditionalists cheering and clamoring for endless choruses of bebop. Those places are nowadays harder and harder to fill up one's dance card with anyway, and what her music is deserves hearing in whatever places welcome the new, the avant, the smart. There are (potentially) plenty of them and her music should be welcomed there, I would think.

All this hits me as I listen again to her album Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed 268). It's a marvelous ensemble (quintet) effort with new music and improv at the forefront. Kris is on piano and contributes the compositions, all except one collective improvisation. She has an important place in the ensemble, often in the role of fellow front-line melodist and good-ideas improviser, but also as harmonic speller-out. Matt Maneri appears in his very inimitable viola style, a singular force. Ingrid Laubrock brings her tenor and gets a chance to wake us up to her own singularity. Then there is the very first-rate rhythm team of Trevor Dunn, bass, and Tom Rainey, drums, who interpret Kris's charts beautifully and take full advantage of the spontaneous freedom they get in imaginative, personal ways.

Those are the parts at work on this disk. The sum is quite engaging. There are very sublime moments of group counterpoint, and there are all kinds of shades of other music making happening too. Davis and ensemble give us the avant music of the present, of the "right now," and it is music that should be widely heard. Thank you Kris. Thank you quintet!!

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