Excellent NY jazz from drummer/composer Devin Gray's superb quartet with Kris Davis on piano, Chris Speed on reeds, and Chris Tordini on double bass, in 8 compositions that are as enjoyable lyrically as it is following the structures, twists and turns of each piece.
Gray, Devin (w/ Kris Davis / Chris Tordini / Chris Speed)
Released in: USA
"The music of drummer and composer Devin Gray traverses terrains that will be familiar to those who've investigated artists such as Tyshawn Sorey and Steve Lehman. As complex and highly structured as Gray's music can be, there's a palpable human warmth throughout Relative Resonance which makes the music—in spite of its ultra-busy, highly demanding nature—kind of easy on the ears. This was also a hallmark of Gray's excellent debut recording, Dirigo Rataplan (Skirl Records, 2012). While some of the pieces—"Jungle Design" for example—resemble contemporary classical music as much as they do modern jazz, there's also an undeniably funky, swinging undertow to Gray's playing. On the other hand, it's not easy to listen to the complete album in one sitting. Gray's penchant for collective improvisation requires that all 4 of the musicians here play pretty much non-stop. Combined with the inherently complex, multi- leveled nature of Gray's compositions, there's very little space in this music. There's just a tremendous amount of information in each of these tracks. It's almost overwhelming.
The vitality and viscerality of Relative Resonance can't be denied, however, and the music here literally sparkles with wit and resourcefulness. The young drummer has consistently worked with the finest musicians on the New York new music scene. Once again, all of the members of Gray's quartet are leaders in their own right. Pianist Kris Davis, who just took 2nd place in the Rising Star division of the 2015 DownBeat Critics Poll, has almost a dozen acclaimed recordings as a leader (or co-leader) to her credit and worked with a dizzying variety of fascinating musicians, from Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey to Tony Malaby and Mary Halvorson. Chris Speed needs almost no introduction here—we've all been listening to his music for well over two decades. Bassist Chris Tordini is best known for his long-term collaborations with Sorey, Lehman, Michael Dessen and Andy Milne's Dapp Theory. All of these people are singularly well-equipped to operate with ease in Gray's tricky mirror-world sound spaces. With incredible focus and huge ears, they lock in on Gray's musical directives, producing a highly personal group sound within the strictures of a well-worn jazz combo instrumentation.
Performance-wise, each track contains several standout moments, many provided by the leader himself. "Transatlantic Transitions" contains several mind-boggling passages as both Speed and Davis dart back and forth, jumping from improvisational statements to playing in unison with Tordini's propulsive syncopated bass line. Speed's tenor has a vulnerable, soft-edged sound that contrasts with the frenetic complications and intertwining lines of Gray's compositions. Davis has a similar touch, though she's generally a more aggressive player. The pieces that stayed with me the longest were those most directly related to modern jazz: the title track, "City Nothing City," and "In The Cut." Here, the quartet's rhythmic gamesmanship and conversational interplay combined with the questing, inquisitive, risky nature of the compositions is no less bracing than Anthony Braxton's finest work."-Dave Wayne, All About Jazz
• Show Bio for Devin Gray
"An artist interested in multiple musical directions and one who strives for quality and sincerity in his work. His exciting energy has compelled him towards many different musical directions and projects. Considered by his contemporaries as cutting edge, Gray shows promise as an artist that will not only move the music forward, but one who will share his unique musical vision with the world of music.
Devin Gray's fresh approach to modern drumming has enabled him to play with many of America's great jazz musicians. He has performed and recorded with innovative musicians of contrasting styles and backgrounds such as: David Liebman, Tony Malaby, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Burrell, Dave Ballou, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Stephan Crump, George Garzone, Chris Speed, Drew Gress, Sam Rivers, Ralph Alessi, John O'Gallagher, Ellery Eskelin, Kris Davis, Ted Rosenthal, Matt Mitchell, Uri Caine, Andrew D'Angelo, Vardan Ovsepian, Bill McHenry as well as many others.
Devin has been fortunate to perform in many places around the globe and continues to make peace with his audiences. He is a top call young drummer in many modern jazz circles in New York City as well as multiple cities on the East Coast of America. Current leader projects include two quartets: "Dirigo Rataplan" featuring Ellery Eskelin, Dave Ballou, and Michael Formanek, and "RelativE ResonancE" featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis, and Chris Tordini. He is currently living, playing, and composing in Brooklyn, New York."-http://devingraymusic.com/about (Devin Gray Website)
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• Show Bio for Chris Speed
"Chris Speed is a composer, clarinetist and saxophonist - and is "one of the principal figures in a dynamic left-of-center jazz/improv scene in the city" (NYTimes). His own bands include Endangered Blood, Human Feel, yeah NO, Trio Iffy, Pachora and The Clarinets. He is a founding member of Jim Black's Alas No Axis and John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet (two of the most influential working bands today), works with Uri Caine (deconstructing works by Mahler, Mozart, Bach, Schoenberg, Gershwin) and maintains a busy career of touring, recording, performing, composing, practicing and teaching. Current projects include work with Craig Taborn's Heroic Frenzies, Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus, Dave King's Trucking Co., Matt Mitchell Quartet, Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue, Banda de los Muertos (NYC's only Banda band), as well as touring his latest project, Endangered Blood (with Black, Trevor Dunn and Oscar Noriega) which was featured on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts in 2012. (Endangered Blood 2010, Work Your Magic 2013 Skirl). "Speed's Endangered Blood originals stand out as his most melodically generous, accessible and warm batch of compositions he's yet to produce." -DownBeat ****Born in 1967, Speed grew up in the Seattle area where he met future colleagues Jim Black and Andrew D'Angelo, all of whom ended up in Boston in the late 80's where they formed Human Feel with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. (Scatter 1992, Welcome to Malpesta 1994, Speak To It 1996, Galore 2007). While in Boston he studied at New England Conservatory and graduated in 1990. By 1992, after a short tour with the Artie Shaw Band (led by Dick Johnson), Speed moved to New York City where he started working with Tim Berne's (now legendary touring band) Bloodcount. (Unwound 1996, Discretion 1997, Saturation Point 1997, The Seconds 2006).In April 2006, he launched Skirl Records, a label dedicated to Brooklyn based creative music" -Chris Speed Website (http://chrisspeed.com/bio/)
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units
Quantity in Basket: None
Catalog ID: Skirl 028
Squidco Product Code: 21136
Packaging: Skirl Digipack
Recorded at Tedesco Studios in Paramus, New Jersey May 25th, 2014 by Tom Tedesco.
Devin Gray-drums, coposer
Chris Tordini-double bass
Chris Speed-tenor saxophone, clarinet
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1. City Nothing City 3:04
2. In The Cut 6:39
3. Notester 7:11
4. Jungle Design (For Hannah Shaw) 10:29
5. Transatlantic Transitions 8:03
6. Undo The Redo 6:30
7. RelativE ResonancE (For Tadd Dameron) 3:37
8. Search It Up 7:08