Tyshawn Sorey

DRUM ROLL please, literally, figuratively. Hardcore no holds barred free improv rules this week. There is unless you prefer nursery rhymes only as listening matter however absolutely nothing inaccessible here.

Tyshawn Sorey has rewritten his own rule book and has designed a panoramic three-CD small ensemble epic.

Pillars (Firehouse 12) was premiered first in Hartford, Connecticut, and is presented as simply and plainly as possible.

The silences speak loud as does the earthiness of the sound, the rawness of attack and vulnerability of decay.

Recorded over two days during the summer before last the shape of the music is impossible to discern which I think is part of the method (think Butch Morris a little in affinity) although mirages do their best to divert via say Stephen Haynes’s trumpet or the doleful elegies of a phalanx of bassists.

This all could be a requiem, it could be a prayer, it shares much with the atmosphere of a Wadada Leo Smith meditation, and yet creates its own sense of alone survivalism. There are no happy endings but there is also a joy achieved somehow against the odds.

Clearly avant there however is a clarity that too many timbral crowds gathered in clusters or packets of energy fail to achieve.

Sorey manages to tap the same well that Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry discovered but perversely given that he is a drummer removes for long spells the pit props of rhythm except as hinted at by the underlying accents that the horn players, frightening electronics of Carl Testa and bass fiddle strings provide. Sorey can conjure a sense of utter collapse like no other.

Where jazz (delete if you prefer something like post-Braxtonian) composition is at right now but it is a hidden world that needs finding and accommodating to what you know in your listening.

You need to spend time with your own thoughts as you experience this world and you need to challenge your emotions or perhaps harden yourself to the truths Pillars stands for. And there are many. What an achievement. SG