Tyshawn Sorey has consistently released albums about every two years. With the every album he has changed the configuration of his lineups. His latest is Alloy, released on the Pi Recordings label, is a traditional piano trio configuration with Corey Smythe on piano, who also appeared on Sorey’s That/Not, and Christopher Tordini on bass, who previously appeared on Oblique-I. Anyone familiar with Sorey’s work will undoubtedly hear his fingerprints all over the music. For the unfamiliar, Sorey’s compositions tend to focus as much on space and touch, leaving you in a space of reflection and thought. Probably due to the lack of a brass or wind instrument on this album, Alloy reminds me most of his 2009 release, and one of my all-time favorite albums, Koan.
Given Sorey’s penchant for space in his compositions, the piano trio setting proves to be a wonderful avenue to display his sound. “Returns” begins with Smythe searching through the keys to find the right notes, as Sorey and Tordini lock in behind. As the searching increasing a mild chaos ensues only to return to a more melodic and contemplative tempo. “Return” flows directly into “Movement”. Building on melody, Smythe weaves in and out of Sorey’s light cymbal play and Tordini’s steady beat. After two 15 plus minute tracks, the trio jumps into “Template”. Honestly, Template will either scare the crap out of you, or make you wonder if you cd player changed discs. The surprise of the album, 2 and 1/2 minutes into the track Sorey lays into a groove on his drum kit that will shock you and make you undoubtedly bob your head in approval. It’s so beautifully out of place I love every time it kicks in, and I’m never expecting it. Finally, Sorey ends with the 30 minute “A Love Song”, and returns to the meditative spacial compositions that Sorey specializes in. This album is already rivaling Koan as my favorite Sorey led album, and currently my favorite release of any artist this year. Released in the typical Pi Recordings digipak, This album has excellent sound quality with one of the most beautifully mic’d pianos I have ever heard.