10 compositions from drummer Tyshawn Sorey's creative quartet/quintet repertoire "41 Compositions", created as a series of platforms for improvisation, here performed with Loren Stillman, Todd Neufeld, John Escreet & Chris Tordini.
Label: Pi Recordings
Released in: USA
"It's of paramount importance that he's covering improvisation of the most intuitive... as well as being attuned to finely-detailed composition. He seems to be at once a primitivist outsider and a studied formalist." - All About Jazz
Oblique - I, the highly anticipated new release from drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey, delivers what his fans have long been seeking: an album that combines his virtuosic playing with his compositional mastery. Named one of "Five Drummers Whose Time is Now" by The New York Times, Sorey recently received his MA in Composition from Wesleyan University where he studied with Anthony Braxton. He is currently a Doctoral Fellow in Composition at Columbia University studying with George Lewis, where he is one of a select number of jazz musicians (along with saxophonist Steve Lehman) to be accepted into this prestigious program. To date, Sorey's drumming has been heard to its fullest effect on recordings with the collaborative trios Fieldwork and Paradoxical Frog; with saxophonist Steve Lehman, including on the landmark Travail, Transformation, and Flow; and with saxophonist Steve Coleman in his band Five Elements. On each of his two prior releases as a leader, That/Not and Koan, which are heavily influenced by the composer Morton Feldman, he seems to willfully play down his instrumental chops, often playing in an extremely minimalist fashion while giving full emphasis to the exploration of space.
Oblique - I is a completely different story. Made up of ten pieces chosen from a collection Sorey calls "41 Compositions," the CD shows off his dynamic playing in a creatively varied program with pieces that feature hummable melodies, chord changes, solo improvisations, indeterminate harmonies, open improvisational strategies and variable form all wrapped up in layers of rhythms. It is Sorey's most diverse album yet.
A conversation with Anthony Braxton in 2002 served as the original impetus for Sorey to create this body of work. These pieces, composed between 2002 and 2006, were honed with a group of musicians - including many on this recording - who played frequently with Sorey under the band name "Oblique" around New York. The music of Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartók, Henry Threadgill, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Steve Coleman figured strongly on his work during this period. Oblique - I was recorded in one marathon 13-hour session, with the more intricate compositions ("Twenty," "Forty," and "Fifteen") requiring over an hour each to get the right take. The musicians - guitarist Todd Neufeld, alto saxophonist Loren Stillman, keyboardist John Escreet, and bassist Chris Tordini - tackle this complex material with aplomb, investing these compositions with verve and conviction, amply demonstrating why they are among the most highly regarded young musicians on the scene today.
Perhaps no higher praise can be given to Sorey than the esteem with which his collaborators in the band Fieldwork hold him. Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has said: "Tyshawn is an artist who thinks for himself, creating deeply innovative, resonant, and personal work. Simply put, he is poised to become one of this century's most significant American musicians. What has consistently struck me about his work, above and beyond its level of technical accomplishment, is a deeply felt resonance with the materials. Even the most austere forms are brought into profound relief by the passion and conviction with which he imbues them. His work keeps broadening and deepening as he expands his arsenal of compositional techniques and continues his restless experimentation." Saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman stated: "Tyshawn Sorey is the most brilliant composer/percussionist of his generation. Possessing both perfect pitch and a total-recall-like ability to absorb massive amounts of musical information, Tyshawn has continually found ways to assimilate and transform ideas from a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms, developing his own compositional voice in so doing. Whether making creative use of space and silence when writing for mixed chamber ensembles, or demonstrating uncanny compositional control over impossibly complex rhythms and elaborate contrapuntal textures, Tyshawn has consistently found ways to define an innovative and meticulously crafted sound world."
Oblique - I reflects Sorey's desire to display a wide range of his compositional skills. He speaks often of his wish to dismantle the perceived contradiction between composition and improvisation and to further the notion that master musicians should both compose and perform at the highest levels. The continuation of his compositional studies at Columbia University demonstrates this ongoing commitment. Sorey felt that it was important to document these compositions at this juncture in his career; it is as if he wanted to make sure that the past is not forgotten, because there really is no predicting what is next to come in his already surprise-filled career.
Sorey has played drums on more Pi Recordings releases than any other musician, so it only makes sense that he is the first drummer to release a record as a leader for the label. That said, he was certainly not chosen by default; Sorey exemplifies everything Pi seeks: a master instrumentalist, a composer of conceptual seriousness and defined creative aesthetic, and a bandleader who brings out the best from his fellow musicians. Oblique - I successfully delivers on all these points, making it the finest showcase to date of Sorey's wide-ranging talents."-Pi Recordings
• Show Bio for Tyshawn Sorey
"Tyshawn Sorey (born July 8, 1980 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American musician and composer who plays drum set, percussion, trombone and piano.
Since graduating from William Paterson University, Sorey has been a sought-after musician in many different musical idioms. He is both a performer and composer, and has had works reviewed in The Wire, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Modern Drummer and Down Beat. In August 2009, Sorey was given the opportunity to curate a month of performances at the Stone, a New York performance space owned by John Zorn. He was selected as an Other Minds 17 (2012).
Sorey recently completed a Master of Arts in composition at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. In the fall of 2011, he began pursuing doctoral work in composition at Columbia University.
To date, Sorey has released four albums as a leader: That/Not (2007, Firehouse 12 Records), Koan (2009, 482 Music), Oblique (2011, Pi Recordings) and Alloy (2014, Pi Recordings). He has recorded or performed with musicians including Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Coleman, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Steve Lehman, Joey Baron, Muhal Richard Abrams, Pete Robbins, Vijay Iyer, Dave Douglas, Butch Morris and Sylvie Courvoisier, among many others."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyshawn_Sorey)
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• Show Bio for John Escreet
"Over the course of his career, John Escreet has earned a reputation as one of the most active and diverse pianist/composers working in jazz and improvised music. His prolific output is reflected over the course of 7 diverse and critically acclaimed albums - the most recent being The Unknown which partners his working Trio (with John Hébert on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums) with the iconic free-jazz saxophonist Evan Parker.
Bursting on to the scene with his 2008 debut album Consequences, Escreet quickly earned a reputation as one of the most exciting new pianist/composers to have emerged in recent years, with Downbeat magazine proclaiming "John Escreet's recent debut Consequences signals the jumpstart of a new voice in jazz." Similar praise followed for his 2010 sophomore release Don't Fight The Inevitable, of which the New York Times' Ben Ratliff said "... on an ambitious second album, the pianist John Escreet seems to be thinking about where jazz can go next. He's using lots of structure and instrumental texture, cruising through different languages, straight-ahead and free and in between; it's like a tour of the last 25 years of serious jazz." 2011 saw two releases - The Age We Live In, and Exception To The Rule, followed by 2013's Sabotage and Celebration, all of which received widespread international critical acclaim. The latest addition to this impressive catalog is 2014's Sound, Space and Structures.
As well as being a leader of prolific output, Escreet is also a much sought-after sideman. He has toured extensively with Antonio Sanchez's Migration band, recording on his 2013 Cam Jazz release New Life. He has also contributed his pianistic skills to the working bands of David Binney, Amir ElSaffar, Tyshawn Sorey, and Jamie Baum among many others.
In 2009, John was a recipient of the prestigious Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, as well as the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming in 2011. In 2013, Escreet was commissioned by the Jazz Gallery to write a new work as part of their Residency/Commissions for 2012-2013, for which he wrote an extended work for string quartet and piano trio. 2014 saw John being awarded the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation USArtists International grant to tour with his Quartet, and recently in 2015 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), his Alma Mater - awarded to past students who have distinguished themselves in the music profession and made a significant contribution to it in their particular field.
John continues to forge ahead with multiple projects and recordings, ranging from his Trio, to his Quintet (known as The John Escreet Project), to collaborative projects with Los Angeles-based pop duo KNOWER, to the most recent collaboration with British free-jazz icon Evan Parker, as well as his recent forays into writing extended works for strings."-John Escreet Website (http://www.johnescreet.com/about.php)
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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PI 40
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Recorded on June 5th, 2011 at Brooklyn Recording, Brooklyn by Andy Taub.
Loren Stillman-alto saxophone
Todd Neufeld-acoustic guitar
John Escreet-Wurlitzer piano
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1. Twenty 7:25
2. Eight 3:40
3. Thirty-Five 10:58
4. Eighteen 4:50
5. Forty 6:01
6. Twenty-Four 6:53
7. Seventeen 8:47
8. Twenty-Five 8:59
9. Fifteen 12:04
10. Thirty-Six 6:56