Matt Mitchell

matt

 

 

 

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.

Advertisements

Matt Mitchell

 

 

Vista Accumulation

Matt Mitchell, a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award, is one of the most in-demand pianists in jazz. As a member of Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, the Dave Douglas Quintet, Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls, John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, and the Darius Jones Quartet, among many others, he has played an integral role on a number of the most critically-acclaimed releases of the last few years.

His new release, Vista Accumulation, spends much of its time contemplating the jazz tradition while continuing to expand on possibilities for interaction between composition and improvisation.

While Fiction mostly included short pieces that were originally conceived as etudes to expand Mitchell’s pianistic facilities, the compositions on Vista Accumulation – eight of them spread out over two CDs — use longer forms. They flow with a narrative arc, constantly unfolding, alternately worrying over small repetitive gestures before expanding to wide vistas.

The detailed music consists as much of continuous, constantly evolving collective playing as it does a succession of solos. It has the feel of contemporary classical music, with references to Morton Feldman and Harrison Birtwistle, and yet there are several ballad-like moments, as well as fractured echoes of the blues.

The music is performed by his quartet, made up of some of the most respected musicians on New York’s cutting-edge jazz scene: Chris Speed produces a soft timbre on tenor saxophone that harkens back to Lester Young and a gorgeous tone on clarinet while playing with a thoroughly modern sensibility.

Bassist Chris Tordini – who has appeared on the Pi Recordings releases Oblique I (2011) and Alloy (2014) from drummer Tyshawn Sorey – plays with a huge, warm tone and an insightful ability to act as the glue for all the music’s parts.

Drummer Dan Weiss – who released his own critically acclaimed Fourteen on Pi in 2014 and plays with the likes of Rudresh Mahanthappa, Lee Konitz, and Dave Binney – plays with great spontaneity and a highly varied compositional sense.

Mitchell’s own supremely inventive playing encompasses a wide vocabulary of influences that are impossible to pinpoint. Paying unusual attention to dynamics of touch and exhibiting his hallmark of rhythmic and harmonic convolution, every one of his solos is the sound of constant surprise.

Etched with lyricism and emotion, Vista Accumulation affords a whole new view on Mitchell’s musical mastery.