Musicworks review by Stuart Broomer


Kris Davis – Aeriol Piano Clean Feed (CF 233)
Kris Davis is a Calgary-born pianist who has followed a path from the University of Toronto to the Banff Centre, eventually to settle in New York in 2001. There she has gradually established herself as a musician who happily resides in the special terrain that has arisen between free jazz and improvised music, working regularly with a distinguished set of associates that includes the saxophonists Tony Malaby and Ingrid Laubrock and the guitarist Mary Halvorsen in an ever-changing array of groups. Aeriol Piano, her first CD as a solo pianist, is a multi-faceted exposition of her largely improvisatory work, with an approach to the keyboard that can suggest an analytical machine gun or sharp feathers. The CD opens with familiar jazz terrain, Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are,” but the piece begins in percussive near-serial abstraction, its melody only emerging at the conclusion. Saturn Returns, a suite-like foray into prepared piano, follows, filled with a microscopic attention to shifts in rhythm and pitch. A Different Kind of Sleep floats in Feldman-like space; Good Citizen at once suggests blues and the Second Viennese School; Beam the Eyes is a chromatic locomotive.  For all that variety, it’s Davis’s constant invention and precision that give this CD its special character.

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