Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kris Davis: Good Citizen

Kris Davis (piano)
Good Citizen (Fresh Sound/New Talent; 2010)
John Herbert (bass)
Tom Rainey (drums)

Kris Davis is one of my favourite pianist. I rank her right up there with Jason Moran and Keith Jarrett. Her compositions are compelling and inventive. Her newest release, Good Citizen is absolutely stellar. A vibrant and explosive trio session with regular collaborators John Herbert and Tom Rainey, Good Citizen is Davis' third recorded output this year (Paradoxical Frog with Ingrid Laubrock and SKM Trio) with a fourth coming before years end. All containing the rich cerebral outlook that makes Kris Davis one of the best musicians deserving much much much wider recognition.

Good Citizen opens with improvising title track smoothly sliding into point/counterpoint interplay of "Where Does That Tunnel Go", a piece that really demonstrates Davis command and freedom with her trio. The album bounces with exuberance and experimentalisim. This is post modernism with quiet accessibility.

Another favourite of mine which is very much in the downtown NYC realm is "Recession Special"-- a pulsating piece that rips itself up and down the scale. Very much what you would expect to see late night in a dark, dingy, New York club setting. It's follow up "Skinner Box" is more in he Cecil Taylor vein, quiet and minimal with Herbert and Rainey really coming to fore with Davis hold a delicate beautiful balance in the background.

Probably the most accessible track is "B Side" an upbeat boppish piece with some fantastic solo work from the always terrific Tom Rainey. A Monkish, Davis leads the group through a nice journey that will definitely have your head and feet bobbing up and down. Great stuff. "Human Condition" is wonderful ballad could easily become your late night theme. It's lovely and romantic but still has a sense of adventure that fits perfect with the rest of the surroundings.

Good Citizen closes with a number that featured earlier this year on the quartet album Paradoxical Frog, "The Iron Spider." This time without the rip current of Ingrid Laubrock's saxophone. But as a trio piece, "The Iron Spider" still packs a huge avant garde punch. Kris Davis fills in the gap with the same verve and excitement. The two pieces aren't drastically different, there's a bit more detail from Herbert and Rainey in this newer recording but at the end of the day it is a stellar piece of work written by all three musicians.

Good Citizen just might be the most varied session to date. It is by far, the must have for any one interested in the current crop of free jazz artists. Good Citizen is definitely in my best albums of the year category. And Kris Davis is one of the most important pianists working today and deserving of a wider audience. I hope after you listen to it, you agree.

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