By Tom Burris
Today we are featuring a couple of recent improvisational collaborations featuring Chicago percussionist & Relay label owner, Tim Daisy.
Tim Daisy Trio – A Day In Berlin (Relay, 2013) ****
Daisy recorded this improvised session with Norwegian pianist Havard Wiik and Australian bassist Clayton Thomas during a particularly adventurous afternoon session in Berlin. It's definitely not a standard piano trio. It's more of an experimental vehicle maneuvered by the collective spirit of the players and the moment, like the kind of European/Chicagoan ensembles you're likely to see at Chicago's Umbrella festival – meaning it's a pajama party where some of the most creative minds on the planet get to interact with each other in a carefully planned format that ideally fosters a surplus of surprise and whimsy. And like the line-ups Umbrella presents, this one often meets the mark and sometimes exceeds its pretty high expectations.
The disc opens with “Suite for Three” which begins with inspired chaos, setting the tone for the entire recording. It moves in many directions, including a walk along a fine line between free jazz and modern classical structures, comprising a clash of mini sonic movements that places the listener into the heart of a micro-tonal beehive. “Spreepark Serenade” continues the hum-with-small-bits-of-chaos sound featuring Wiik's piano work, which is reminiscent of Fred Van Hove's attack on those classic Brotzmann records. “There Goes the Sun” rides many thunderstorms throughout its nearly 30 minute exercise, along the way inviting comparisons to Van Hove/Bennink (again) and featuring a segment that features Thomas playing a glass while Wiik plays monolithic clusters and Daisy frantically searches for a way out of the mayhem. The disc closes with “Treptow Promenade,” which begins as a minimalistic exploration of the spaces between the notes/sounds, but gradually builds to a long crescendo of Cecil Taylor style proportions until collapsing into a sub-sonic rumble that lasts for two minutes.
Here's hoping this is just the beginning for this band. Rempis, bring 'em to Umbrella 2014!
CD limited to 350 copies. Also available as a digital download here.
Hans Peter Pfammatter & Tim Daisy – Different Names (Relay Digital, 2013) ****
Similar to the session for the trio date, Swiss pianist Hans Peter Pfammatter recorded this duo w/ Daisy in a single afternoon in 2009 in Chicago. Pfammatter plays “prepared” piano, but not exclusively. Combining the percussive attack of the prepared strings with the melodic and chordal structures of the unprepared strings creates a one-man-band feel at times, notably on pair of tracks, “For Tinguely” and “Ravenswood”. This playfulness and invention reminds me of Monk, in the way that it's done with humor and careful attention to space. Also like Monk, Pfammatter uses elliptical blocks of melody as an anchor and likes to “slur” the notes.
Daisy is a magnificent foil for Pfammatter, pushing and pulling and prodding Hans who, again like Monk, can be as stubborn as a mule. Daisy is sensitive and surprising enough to make the most of every musical situation here – even when Pfammatter puts his foot down and holds steady. “On Sheridan” and “Different Names” are particularly fascinating psychological studies of both of these musicians' personalities.
Things slow down a bit on “Winona,” a contemplative track that drowns the melody in its own resonance by way of Pfammatter's refusal to lift the damper pedal for even a millisecond. His timekeeping on the prepared keys, playing dual/duel percussion with Daisy, whose playing lifts the track above mere prettiness and closer to a place of beauty. The album closes with a spacious exploration of sound (“Glass and Steel”) on which both men work in hot pursuit of every tonal color their instruments are capable of producing.
Available from Instantjazz.