Free Jazz review by Stef


RIDD Quartet – Fiction Avalanche (CF 121)
****½
I am not too familiar with the way in which musicians work with labels, or how long it takes before they can get their material released, but I am perplexed that pianist Kris Davis manages to release two albums within a few months time on two different labels, and more importantly, that both are of a very high qualitative level. The RIDD Quartet further consists of Jeff Davis on drums, Jon Irabagon on sax and Reuben Radding on drums. This album is not unlike “Rye Eclipse”, although it is more transparent, more accessible, less urgent in its need to tell the story as its predecessor. Many of the compositions have the same abstract and emotional quality of her other recent album. But this is of course a quartet album, not Kris Davis and band. Jon Irabagon I find a revelation on this album. To be honest, I thought his “Outright” album, released earlier this year, was quite mediocre, yet here his tone, free lyricism and emotional drive are excellent, not of the same level of Malaby, though, but really strong. Radding is as good as we know him and so is Jeff Davis, and both complement each other well. The second track, “Sky Circles”, starts out quite slowly and gentle, yet it gradually starts building intensity and momentum. Whether it’s slow emotional explorations as on the title track (which does not sound like an avalanche at all, by the way), or a more intense and raw approach as on the beginning “The Eye And The Telescope”, the four musicians manage to have a quite unique coherent and creative angle, with introspective and expansive moods alternating, exploring sound interactions and rhythmic invention. The stylistical elements used are subtle : repetitive piano string pluckings, or repetitive sax phrases, come and go, as do melodies and themes, and so does the volume, and the instruments, but all very subtly, creating slight differences and changes, nothing abrupt, yet full of little surprises that make this quite a great listen. I like it a lot!
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