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Saturday, November 20, 2021

David Haney - Circadian World Clock (Big Round Records, 2021) ****

By Stef Gijssels

Pianist David Haney - owner-editor of Cadence Magazine - is a creative soul, with a penchant for off-center musical productions, oscillating between small jazzy ensembles and more ambitious projects, composed and orchestrated around single concepts that drive the music into cross-over territory. 

This album fits into both categories. Haney plays piano (with EBows and mallets), accompanied by Dave Storrs on multiple instruments, Bernard Purdie on drums (yes, of the shuffle) ... and the Circadian Consort. This "consort" is a global group of people who contributed by sending field recordings from their city or even several direct messages from lockdown. These short snippets of sound - 31 of them, ranging from 36 seconds to 4 minutes, guide the composition/improvisation, and they take us around the clock. The snippets were "recorded at the specific hours of the day prescribed by the Monastic Liturgy of the Hours", and one piece even includes singing by the choir of the monks of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon. 

The objective of the music is to create a universal human feeling, a sense of community and openness in the closed world of corona lockdown. Over the ambient sounds, Haney's piano adds a fine layer of accompanying music, sometimes with support from his two partners, sometimes alone. The piano, drums and other instruments weave their sounds alomost inobtrusively through the sonic backdrop. The result is a fresh and nice landscape full of empathy and compassionate music. There is nothing grand in the 31 tracks by themselves, quite to the contrary, Haney uses small circumstantial street noises or other ambient sounds in their small familiarity and sign of human presence.  It's only by combining all the small snippets that something meaningful and grand appears, and Haney's piano makes sure that his sound has continuity through the diversity of the material. 

In sum, a very charming album, a unifying voice for people around the world, all living the same space, all  living our small lives, and going through the same daily cycles. A smart and welcome piece of music.