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Friday, September 9, 2022

Tyshawn Sorey – Mesmerism (Yeros7 Music, 2022)

By Matty Bannond

Lazy labels cannot constrict him. An avalanche of accolades cannot contain him. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey is among the most prolific and revered musicians of contemporary times. With his trio album Mesmerism, Sorey is now giving his devoted listenership an unexpected shock by travelling in a completely new musical direction – straight ahead.

Mesmerism features pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer alongside Sorey on drums. They rehearsed for just a couple of hours before recording this six-track album of compositions from the likes of Duke Ellington and Bill Evans. “After having been typecast as being a so-called ‘avant-gardist’ for nearly two decades, I decided that it was finally time for me to make this recording date happen myself with musicians I deeply respect and admire,” Sorey says.

“Enchantment” by Horace Silver is one of the more faithful interpretations on the record, but the trio adds spicy subtleties to stimulate the listener on this first track. Sorey’s charismatic percussive force is never far from the surface, popping up and pushing onwards. Diehl teases open the sonic cracks, provoking an irresistible interplay of tension-and-release between three strong musical personalities.

The group dishes up a looser reading of Paul Motian’s “From Time to Time”. Nomadic piano patterns and percussive clunking form a precarious, thin-ice atmosphere. A closing melodic statement offers an optimistic sense of homecoming at the track’s conclusion. It’s a freer and more exploratory piece that showcases the trio’s expressive force.

“REM Blues” is the final track, a swinging number that Brewer nudges from bar to bar with a good old walking bassline. Sorey’s drumming holds a fairly straight lane, throwing out occasional tumble turns at the end of each 12-bar progression. Listeners are left in little doubt about the warmth and joy that Sorey and his buddies feel for this music. And the solos are proof, as if it were needed, that no musician is ever too widely admired or highly exalted to enjoy tearing the blues into a million shreds.

Listeners who are familiar with Sorey’s astonishing powers of imagination and invention may feel shortchanged by his decision to release a record featuring standards like “Autumn Leaves”, in the same way they might raise eyebrows if invited to watch Harry Houdini escape from a wet paper bag. Sorey has stated that his goal with this record was “not to reinvent the wheel or prove anything, but to document the unwavering love and appreciation I have for these songs in the most honest, earnest way I can.” Mesmerism is an album shaped by a spirit of fondness, familiarity and fun. And it contains more than a few surprises too.

The album is available on CD, digital download and streaming here


Monochromios said...

This is a.wonderful album that shows an unexplored side of Sorey. Great review