Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kris Davis: Capricorn Climber

Kris Davis (piano)
Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed; 2013)
Ingrid Laubrock (sax)
Trevor Dunn (bass)
Tom Rainey (drums)
Mat Maneri (viola)

The incomparable, Kris Davis returns with more brave and complex patterns on her sixth album, Capricorn Climber. Davis, is part of the new legion on New York musicians that are redefining the scene nationally and globally. A scene composed of such notables as Tom Rainey, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans, Ches Smith, Tashawn Sorey, Moppa Elliott, Jon Iragbagon et al. But Davis like Halvorson has been one of the major standouts for me over the last few years.

Capricorn Climber provides all you need to know and hear from a talented composer with challenging ideas. "Pass The Magic Hat" is a smooth yet very involved piece. The first steady tempo is lead by some lovely rolling lines from Davis. This is subtly balanced by Rainey and an uncharacteristically calm Laubrock, who sounds bold and romantic. Then all that changes as the piece moves forward and becomes even more reserved and delicate. Maneri dominates with some wonderfully inventive and chaotic notes. Beautiful and surreal.

Davis gives Trevor Dunn a lot of room to roam of course on "Trevor's Luffa Complex." The opening solo is superb and illustrates how well developed his craft has become in the last few years (actually he's been at way longer than that). He sets up some lovely exchanges with Laubrock that then fold nicely into a boiling cascade as Davis and Rainey come blasting in.

"PI is Irrational" flexes back and forth with breaking rhythms and patterns, mainly from Maneri and Rainey, with little slices of improvised notes floating in and out from Davis and Dunn. Laubrock's arrives towards the end of the number to add a nice linear passage for the closing notes by Dunn.

Maneri really shines in Davis' pieces, this is evident of the title track where his conversation with Davis is a perfect simpatico. Once the rest of the quintet dive in, the piece becomes a bright wash of sound that levels off calmly but with deep sense of structure.

A new album from Kris Davis always brings real joy to my ears. Capricorn Climber is definitely one of the more developed and intense sessions she's done so far. And it may take a little time for you digest all its beauty. But you will shortly realize how important Kris Davis has become as musician, composer and influence on a larger scene globally. Highly Recommended. And one of my albums of the year!

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