Tyshawn Sorey has a strong profile as both drummer and composer, creating extended works on several fronts, exploring both improvisation and composition, including concert pieces dedicated to key influences (For Roscoe Mitchell and For George Lewis), probing hypnotic works (Pillars, a three-CD magnum opus exploring low frequency improvisation), and assorted collaborations with pianists Vijay Iyer and Marilyn Crispell. Here Sorey takes a different turn, recording a series of favourite jazz tunes, several of them standards, in an ad hoc trio with pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer, a “project with only an hour or two of rehearsal, … with a group of musicians who never performed on stage together.”
That’s both harsh reality and ideal in jazz, a test of the spontaneous creativity that defines the art, and this trio performs magnificently, working through a program that combines traditional standards – Detour Ahead, here a 14-minute voyage into harmonic extension, and Autumn Leaves, a spare masterpiece – to works by master pianist-composers, like Horace Silver and Duke Ellington. It’s a trio that can achieve mystery and clarity simultaneously, with Silver’s Enchantment moving from hanging resonant chords to soulful modal blues and Paul Motian’s From Time to Time effectively suspending time amidst the piano’s sustain and Sorey’s cloud-like cymbals. Muhal Richard Abrams’ Two Over One and Duke Ellington’s REM Blues, have a muscular vigour and avoid verbosity, reflecting Diehl, Brewer and Sorey’s creativity and precision.
Mesmerism may be a commonplace project, but the results are often majestic.