The Squid's Ear Magazine


Borderlands Trio (Crump / Davis / McPherson): Wandersphere [2 CDs] (Intakt)

An exemplary collective piano trio from Stephan Crump on acoustic bass, Kris Davis on piano and Eric McPherson on drums, their 2nd album as Borderlands Trio, recording in the studio for four exceptional, extended improvisations with an innate sense of lyricism and free flowing exchange of confident interaction, developing elegantly warm grooves and melodic progressions; beautiful.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Stephan Crump-acoustic bass

Kris Davis-piano

Eric McPherson-drums


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UPC: 7640120193706

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: ITK370.2
Squidco Product Code: 31391

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded at Samurai Hotel, in Astoria, New York, on December 11th, 2020, by David Stoller.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Following the stunning debut album Asteroida, the New York trio Borderlands with Stephan Crump, Kris Davis and Eric McPherson release a double CD with four improvisations which range in length from just under twenty to over forty minutes. Recorded during the coronavirus pandemic in New York in 2020, the music contrasts the New York mood of isolation with an uncommon passion for playing, intensity and musical intimacy.

Chicago/Berlin jazz critic Peter Margasak writes in the liner notes: "The works float, roil, swing, breathe, rush, and sparkle without every revealing any sort of hesitation or falling into a rut. The musicians don't follow one another and they eschew glib reaction. Instead, they sit with the flowing ideas, thinking ahead about where the music could go. They play a long game with their spontaneity. These four amazing explorations reflect a kind of total music." He writes full of enthusiasm: "The Borderlands Trio engage in four mind-boggling explorations here - patiently, generously, and almost telepathically building a unified sonic architecture that celebrates the act of collective improvisation as profoundly, as beautifully, and as completely as anything I've ever heard."

McPherson turned 50 on the day of the session, and calls the experience "the ultimate birthday gift."-Intakt



"If I had access to a time machine, you betcha I'd consider going back and changing a few things - of course, weighing the benefits against the risks warned of in many sci-fi stories and films. But one thing I would not hesitate to do is add this album to my 2021 year-end list. It's remarkable, and I just hadn't had the opportunity to listen to it as closely as it deserved before the year drew to a close.

Wandersphere is the second album from Borderlands Trio, which comprises Stephan Crump on acoustic bass, Kris Davis on piano, and Eric McPherson on drums. Recorded in studio during December 2020, this double album features four pieces freely improvised by the collective, each ranging between 19 and 44 minutes in duration. This is music that takes its sweet time exploring the subtle nuance of patient and generous musical dialogue.

Each artist in this trio boasts an impressive résumé of awards and critical acclaim, and this is borne out in Wandersphere. Drummer Eric McPherson's playing is masterfully delicate and sensitive, bassist Stephan Crump plays with a gravity of great warmth and clarity, and pianist Kris Davis brilliantly plays preparations to her piano that can make herself sound like multiple musicians simultaneously.

One of the standout features of these recordings is the abundance of openness and quietude. The sounds conjured in these creations soar in grand canyons of space. The listener can just stretch out and luxuriate in the vastness. The quality of the recording also rewards close attention to countless fine details. Though these artists wander in ways open and free, their paths also converge momentously in charming melodies and fascinating grooves, which feel like fun discoveries.

"An Invitation to Disappear" is the shortest track at just under twenty minutes. It begins with quietly dynamic pizzicato bass lines swimming in gently lapping waves of cymbal taps, later joined by a bright piano chord dropped into the mix and let ring until it completely dissipates. It feels massively spacious and richly textured, like the energy of an entire ocean mostly at rest. Energy slowly builds and at the 8-minute mark a naturally emerging groove swirls round and round like an eddy.

In the liner notes, Crump shares a perspective on this trio's music - namely as a kind of "concentric orbiting." If I understand properly, it's as if each musician is circling a shared commonality, but in their own distinct orbit. This is eminently heard in the music. Often each musician seems to be simultaneously playing out their own unique sonic idea, repeating aspects of their motif as if to let it gestate and slowly grow -- but each idea may be quite different in rhythm or harmony. They don't often follow each other in obvious ways, the relationship between their expressions can be intriguingly elusive.

"Old Growth" is the longest track at over 41 minutes. The listener can hear the concentric circling - sometimes it's dancelike, or a frantic racing that becomes a charming strut, later a murmuring crisscross of harmonies and rhythms that fade into the quietest possible rustle from McPherson, like a breeze juggling leaves, and the hush of your own breath as you listen. Throughout, Crump plumbs the depths with mournful arco and tender grooves, and Davis stretches out - from thrilling runs to plaintive calls, from industrial buzz to fragile tings."-Anthony Simon, The Free Jazz Collective


Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective

Artist Biographies

"Memphis-bred, Grammy-nominated bassist/composer Stephan Crump has lived in Brooklyn since 1994. An active bandleader and composer, he has released ten critically-acclaimed albums in addition to numerous film scoring contributions. As bassist, known for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity of magnetic pull, his focus on creative instrumental music has led to collaborations with many of the leading lights of his generation.

Shunning barriers of genre, Crump has performed and recorded with a diverse range of musicians, from Portishead's Dave McDonald, The Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano, to Patti Austin, Jim Campilongo, Jorma Kaukonen, Lucy Kaplansky, Big Ass Truck, Sonny Fortune, and late blues legend Johnny Clyde Copeland. Currently, he can be heard as a long-standing member of Vijay Iyer Trio and Sextet, Jen Chapin Band, Ches Smith Trio, Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Liberty Ellman Sextet, Secret Keeper (with Mary Halvorson), his own Rosetta Trio, as well as groups with Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Cory Smythe, Eric McPherson, Mat Maneri, and Okkyung Lee.

Stephan comes from a family of architects, sculptors, painters, storytellers, musicians, civic leaders, and craftsmen. He was raised in music and the arts by his Parisian mother, an amateur pianist, and his Memphian father, an architect, painter, and jazz drummer. After six years of classical piano study and two years with the alto saxophone, he got his first bass guitar at age thirteen and spent his high school years playing in rock and funk bands around Memphis. During the summers, he worked in the studio of his uncle, Stephen, a wood sculptor.

Crump received his Bachelor of Music degree from Amherst College, where he studied under Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlin and was awarded the Sundquist Prize for performance and composition. It was at Amherst that he began his acoustic bass journey, with a focus on classical training that culminated in a year of study in Paris with Gary Karr-protégé Patrick Hardouineau. His jazz studies at Amherst included work with Max Roach, Frank Foster, and Ray Drummond.

Crump launched his solo performance career as an invited artist at the 2009 International Society of Bassists conference and has since released several recordings documenting his duo collaborations with alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, pianist James Carney, and guitarist Mary Halvorson. His all-string Rosetta Trio, with Jamie Fox and Liberty Ellman, is working toward their fourth album, while and his Rhombal quartet, with Tyshawn Sorey, Ellery Eskelin, and Adam O'Farrill, recently released its eponymous debut.

Stephan is an enthusiastic endorser of Velvet strings, Aguilar bass amplifiers, AMT acoustic bass microphones, and David Gage Czech Ease travel bass."

-Stephan Crump Website (http://stephancrump.com/about/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Pianist-composer Kris Davis has blossomed as one of the singular talents on the New York jazz scene, a deeply thoughtful, resolutely individual artist who offers "uncommon creative adventure," according to JazzTimes. The Vancouver-born, Brooklyn-residing Davis was dubbed one of the music's top up-and-comers in a 2012 New York Times article titled "New Pilots at the Keyboard," with the newspaper saying: "Over the past couple years in New York, one method for deciding where to hear jazz on a given night has been to track down the pianist Kris Davis." Reviewing one of the series of striking albums Davis has released over the past half-decade, the Chicago Sun-Times lauded the "sense of kaleidoscopic possibilities" in her playing and compositions.

Long favored by her peers and jazz fans in the know, Davis has earned high praise from no less than star pianist and MacArthur "Genius" Grant honoree Jason Moran, who included her in his Best of 2012 piece in Art Forum, writing: "A freethinking, gifted pianist on the scene, Davis lives in each note that she plays. Her range is impeccable; she tackles prepared piano, minimalism and jazz standards, all under one umbrella. I consider her an honorary descendant of Cecil Taylor and a welcome addition to the fold."

The newest album from Davis as a leader is Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed, 2013), with the pianist joined by kindred spirits Ingrid Laubrock (tenor saxophone), Mat Maneri (viola), Trevor Dunn (double-bass) and Tom Rainey (drums). Davis made her debut on record as a leader with Lifespan (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2003), followed by three progressively inventive and acclaimed albums for the Fresh Sound label: the quartet discs The Slightest Shift (2006) and Rye Eclipse (2008), then the trio set Good Citizen (2010). Davis's 2011 solo piano album on Clean Feed, Aeriol Piano, appeared on Best of the Year lists in The New York Times, JazzTimes and Art Forum. Davis wrote the extraordinary arrangements for saxophonist-composer Tony Malaby's nonet project Novela, with the album Novela released by Clean Feed in 2011 and appearing on Best of the Year lists in DownBeat and JazzTimes. The pianist is also part of the collaborative Paradoxical Frog with Laubrock and drummer Tyshawn Sorey; their eponymous 2011 album on Clean Feed was included on Best of the Year lists by National Public Radio, The New York Times and All About Jazz.

In addition to her work as a leader, Davis has performed with such top figures as Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, John Hollenbeck, Michael Formanek and Mary Halvorson. Davis started playing piano at age 6, studying classical music through the Royal Conservatory in Canada and formulating her desire for a life in music by playing in the school jazz band at age 12. She earned a bachelor's degree in Jazz Piano from the University of Toronto and attended the Banff Centre for the Arts jazz program in 1997 and 2000. The pianist received a Canada Council grant to relocate to New York and study composition with Jim McNeely, then another to study extended piano techniques with Benoit Delbecq in Paris. She holds a master's in Classical Composition from the City College of New York, and she teaches at the School for Improvised Music.

The Jazz Gallery has given Davis a commissioning residency to write for her trio with Rainey and John Hébert to take place in May 2013, and the Shifting Foundation awarded her a grant to compose and record a large-ensemble project. About her art, JazzTimes has declared: "Davis draws you in so effortlessly that the brilliance of what she's doing doesn't hit you until the piece has slipped past." "

-Kris Davis Website (http://krisdavis.net/bio/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"A native of NYC, Eric McPherson came to prominence apprenticing with legendary saxophonist and educator, Jackie Mclean, and innovative pianist and composer Andrew Hill. Those foundational experiences cultivated Eric into one of the leading drummers in contemporary creative music. Eric continues the legacy of the musical giants who came before him. As well as performing and teaching internationally with an array of today's leading contemporary creative musicians, Eric teaches privately and at the University of Hartford's, Jackie Mclean institute."

-Smalls Live (https://www.smallslive.com/artists/222-eric-mcpherson/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



CD1



1. Super-Organism 30:28

2. An Invitation To Disappear 19:43

CD2



1. Old-Growth 41:22

2. Possible Futures 24:33

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Collective Free Improvsation
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings
Piano Trio (Piano Bass Drums)
Intakt
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