New York bassist Michael Bisio pays tribute to his teacher William O. Smith in this tremendous duo with cornetist Kirk Knuffke, in a beautiful mix of lyrical playing and heavy technical skills made to sound remarkably simply; a joyful and profound jazz album.
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Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR1043
Squidco Product Code: 21625
Recorded at Park West Studios in Brooklyn, New York on December 29th, 2015 by Jim Clouse.
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1. Drago 3:46
2. Row For William O. 9:54
3. I Want To Do To You What Spring Does To Cherry Trees 6:23
4. December 4:47
5. Oh See O.C. 7:02
6. To Do Birds... 5:11
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
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sample the album:
"Following last year's excellent Accortet, Michael Bisio and Kirk Knuffke are back together in the Relative Pitch catalogue-this time as a duo-with Row for William O. Better known in the jazz canon as Bill Smith, the clarinetist, composer, and teacher (Bisio's) to whom the album is dedicated also holds parallel status in the modern classical world, where he identifies as William O. Smith. This strictly demarcated either/or divide between jazz and classical is perhaps belied by Smith's association with the both/and Third Stream genre (for example his "Schizophrenic Scherzo," composed for the Dave Brubeck Octet). A sense of balance and blend surfaces here not in style of the music but in the playing itself, which is as consonant as the album title's rhyme and evocative of its image: Bisio and Knuffke both "rowing" with equal effort to keep the course true.
I've been in love with Bisio's playing since first seeing him live with Matthew Shipp a few years ago. His approach to the bass has an energy and versatility that suits it well to the responsibility and attention required of and afforded by the duo (or even solo) setting. Whoever he's with, Bisio is an intensely focused and deliberate musician, which allows him to achieve and maintain a profound sense of presence on his instrument. In some places, this means letting single tones hang and decay, as in the middle part of the title track. In others, as in his solo on "Oh See O.C.," it means deploying a relentless barrage of notes (in this case building toward an obligatory but pleasingly deft "Lonely Woman" quote). His arco playing can be rich and densely textured at one moment and nimbly syncopated the next-for evidence see the album's final track. Bisio's ability to shift fluidly and convincingly from any one of these modes to another is part of the captivating magic of listening to him play. And yet for all his virtuosic capability and improvisational prowess, it should be noted that Bisio isn't too proud either to lay down a straightforward walking line-which he manages to make as absorbing as anything else, the way great drummers can outplay technical show-offs with simple quarter notes on the ride.
In theory, this is where Knuffke has room to step in, but in practice, he finds his own openings. His cornet tone is intimate, almost dry, but not without bite, leaning sometimes towards the tactile ("December"), sometimes towards the lyrical and outright jazzy, as on the theme of the opener, "Drago," or on the cathartic heights during the Neruda-inspired "I Want to Do to You What Spring Does to Cherry Trees." A solo spotlight at the beginning of the final track "To Birds" further highlights Knuffke's playing nicely. Ultimately, though, while the possible gradations of interactive dynamics in improvisation are many, my favorite moments on Row for William O. are those that ground the album's overarching principle of tribute and influence on a concrete, fundamental level. These are the moments, again, of consonance, mutual reflection, and "rhyme," where Bisio and Knuffke pay homage not only to Bill Smith (and to Ornette, and to Neruda, and to...) but also, in their sensitive interactions, to each other."-Eric McDowell, Free Jazz Blog
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• Show Bio for Kirk Knuffke
"Cornetist and Composer Kirk Knuffke is the winner of Downbeat Magazine's "Rising Star"critics poll for 2015. A recipient of the Jerome Foundation composers grant, Kirk has released 15 recordings as a leader or co-leader. "One of modern jazz's most skilled navigators of the divide between inside and outside, freedom and swing", he has "full command of his most demanding instrument" - All About Jazz. Kirk placed in the top five in the World in the El Intruso critics poll and was one of 6 nominees for Trumpeter of the year by the Jazz Journalist Association.
Matt Wilson, Allison Miller, Butch Morris, Uri Caine, Michael Formanek, and many more have hired him as a sideman for over 60 recordings, he has been called "One of New York City's busiest musicians" - New York Times.
Knuffke has been based in NYC since 2005. Shortly after his arrival Knuffke began playing with Butch Morris, this friendship resulted in 4 recordings and several European tours. Kirk joined the celebrated Matt Wilson Quartet in 2009, recording "Gathering Call" (Palmetto) featuring John Medeski and touring each year. 2016 brought Matt Wilson's "Beginning of a memory" Palmetto, which received 5 stars in Downbeat Magazine. Michael Formaneks "The Distance" ECM was also awarded 5 stars this year. Knuffke also plays in "Sifter" with Mary Halvorson and Wilson, Ideal Bread, Allison Miller's "Boom Tic Boom", Todd Sickafoose's "Tiny Resistors" and groups led by Ray Anderson, Uri Caine, Mark Helias, Bill Goodwin, Karl Berger and Ted Brown to name a few. "Arm and Hands" a recent release garnering praise from every major Jazz publication as 4 Stars in Downbeat magazine review and Sunday New York Times. The Following CDs "Little Cross" Steeplechase records and "Lamplighter" Fresh Sound Records have also received much praise. Kirk Has had feature articles in Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, Germany's "Sonic", and Denmark's "JazzSpecial" among others."-Kirk Knuffke Website (http://kirkknuffke.com/biography.html)
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