A Pouting Grimace is the audacious new release from pianist/composer Matt Mitchel who has established himself as a composer of bold distinction.
Substantial in scope, the album, which features twelve musicians: five woodwinds, four percussionists, harp, bass, and the leader on piano, Prophet 6, and electronics, weaves an intricate web of off-kilter rhythms and logical frenzy.
Produced by the acclaimed guitarist/composer David Torn, the work is completely beyond genre, a daring tour de force that headily mines the interstice between precision-plotted compositions and the thrill of improvisation.
Highly regarded among the jazz cognoscenti, Mitchell is a first-call for musicians seeking a pianist able to deal with the most demanding complex material. He is a charter member of saxophonist Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, who just released their fourth album, Incidentals, and Mitchell also interpreted Berne’s compositions on Forage, released earlier in 2017.
He’s a great example of the 21st-Century musician: versed in the musical lessons of the past, present, and poised to help move the development of jazz music forward.A Pouting Grimace takes Mitchell’s music to a whole other level, featuring ensemble pieces bursting with intricate detail interwoven with solo electronic interludes.
The idea was borne out of his desire to try composing music with a fresh instrumental palette, one heavy on the convoluted interlocution between the various woodwinds and percussion.
Each of the group compositions is derived from a kernel of an idea – listen carefully and you can probably figure it out. While entirely plotted out, the compositions leaves room for frequent and varied layers of improvisation, all in service of the overall arrangements.