Peter Margasak | My 40 favorite albums of 2019—part 2

By Peter Margasak

30. Bill Callahan, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (Drag City)
29. James Brandon Lewis, An UnRuly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)
28. Caroline Shaw/Attaca Quartet, Orange (New Amsterdam/Nonesuch)
27. Nate Wooley, Columbia Icefield (Northern Spy)
26. Buddy & Julie Miller, Breakdown on 20th Ave. South (New West)
25. Eve Risser, Après un Rêve (Clean Feed)
French pianist Eve Risser knocked me out with her 2015 solo album Des Pas Sur la Neige (Clean Feed), forging one of the most original and convincing excursions into prepared piano improvisation I’ve heard since discovering Magda Mayas. She proves her rigor and restlessness four years later, gathering up her voluminous techniques and knowledge in service of a sustained composition, maximizing the possibilities of the seemingly more limited upright piano. Après un Rêve is a single piece clocking in at just 25 minutes, but its narrative flow, a series of indelible motifs, and serial use of specific sounds such as a recurring, clanging buzz create a wholly satisfying experience. I caught Risser playing a reworked version of the piece at this year’s Jazzfest Berlin, where a sound designer gave the music a greater, more hypnotizing rhythmic character, but using only her own devices here, she’s delivered a small wonder that’s pulled me in further and further with each listen.

24. Rustin Man, Drift Code (Domino)
23. J. Pavone String Quartet, Brick and Mortar (Birdwatcher)
22. Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, Where Future Unfolds (International Anthem)
21. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You (Atlantic)


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