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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)
RelativE ResonancE

Gray, Devin (w/ Kris Davis / Chris Tordini / Chris Speed): RelativE ResonancE (Skirl)

Label: Skirl    
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

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
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Price: $12.71
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 3.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 888295258852

Label: Skirl
Catalog ID: Skirl 028
Squidco Product Code: 21136

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: Skirl Digipack
Recorded at Tedesco Studios in Paramus, New Jersey May 25th, 2014 by Tom Tedesco.


Devin Gray-drums, coposer

Kris Davis-piano

Chris Tordini-double bass

Chris Speed-tenor saxophone, clarinet

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Track Listing:

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

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