Gapplegate Music Reviews – Nick Fraser – Too Many Continents, with Tony Malaby, Kris Davis


By Grego Applegate Edwards

Nick Fraser is an imaginative drummer on the avant jazz scene, out of Canada, one I am not well acquainted with. Until now, anyway, and his trio recording Too Many Continents (Clean Feed 336) with his talented cohorts Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano) and Kris Davis (piano).
There are three Fraser-penned compositions; the rest are collective collaborations. The free interplay of three bountifully creative musicians is what this set is about, and it is very nice to hear. All three have no shortage of inspired interactive ideas. They put them to excellent use in the service of the whole.

Kris Davis is a pianist I have come to appreciate very much over the last few years. She is within the scatter and splatter piano zone, individually so. She can let loose with torrential noting but then do sparser phrasings too, all with a keen ear for detail and musical coherence.

Tony Malaby, most everyone will know, has his own ever brimming wealth of ideas and timbral presences. He sounds particularly well here with plenty of testificatory declamations that at times ride atop Kris and Nick’s dramatic effusions like a person effectively and artfully riding a wild horse. But then there are quieter moments too and Tony phrases and invents rather brilliantly at those times as well.

Nick shows himself a world-class freetime drummer on the set. The openness of a smaller ensemble that knows what it is all about gives Fraser the space to sound his way artfully, with an ear to the totality of sounds and gestures within which a great drummer can both find and lead the way.

Kris is a player who interacts especially well while making her own personal pianistic statements. Tony and Nick do the same within the material particularities of sounding their respective instruments.

It is an impressive and consistently exhilarating blaze of considered sound we get to experience on Too Many Continents. It says a wealth about the creative originality of the three, but it at the same time summons you, the listener, into the orbit of sound ideas and expressions.

Yes, really good going to be heard on this one. A red-hot ticket item to warm your innards like an avant cup of hot chocolate!

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