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Friday, February 20, 2015

Kris Davis - Waiting for You to Grow (Clean Feed, 2014) ****

By Stefan Wood

Kris Davis is a pianist hailing from Vancouver, currently residing in New York, and has been garnering praise for her creatively adventurous work in the NY music scene. She is influenced by Cecil Taylor, but stylistically covers a wide range, from jazz standards to minimalist works. Waiting for You to Grow is her latest effort on Clean Feed, the Portuguese based label that is at the forefront for contemporary improvised music. It is a trio session, with John Herbert on bass and Tom Rainey on drums.

“Whirly Swirly” opens the album with a military style drum solo from Rainey, before the others come in and counter with a seemingly disjointed and angular response, piano keys banging and bass plucking like industrial machines. It moves from this to a minimal soundscape where piano keys are struck almost in silence, bass strings bowing with a low shrill, before eventually building back up to a heavy and fervent percussive conclusion by all three artists. “Twice Escaped” is a little more straightforward, with Davis leading the way with intricate piano notes that grab the listener with its seemingly repetitive manner but is drawing a more complex soundscape. “Berio,” (a reference to Italian composer Luciano Berio) is a track that begins with a contemplative mood highlighted by Herbert’s bass playing, that moves toward a tension between piano and drums, that begins slow but builds speed, as Davis embarks a series of flutters and flurries that Rainey responds to with more active drum work. It is a high point on the album. “Hiccups” is another delightful track, piano notes darting in and out, descriptive of the title, while bass and drums provide ample support, propelling the music towards a very fluid and boppish course and conclusion. “Propaganda and Chiclets” begins with an agitated trio setting, as all three musicians create a light but low rolling thunderous moment, building in intensity but dissipating just before reaching pure noise and chaos, retreating back towards a more contemplative mood. “Waiting for You to Grow,” is a low key mood piece, Davis tastefully working with the almost silence with delicate keyword, bass and drums embellishing and adding more dimension. It is a beautiful track and ends the album on a very high note.

The album is excellent overall, again displaying Davis’ skills and original improvisations. Recommended.