Gray, Devin (w/ Kris Davis / Chris Tordini / Chris Speed)
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.
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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 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
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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"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
Get additional information at 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 Kris Davis
"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/)
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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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