Author Archives: Kris Davis

Downbeat Article by Bradley Bambarger- December issue

New Approaches

The music of pianist Kris Davis is characterized by its duality. Although often tagged as “cerebral”—and her output is complex and progressive, often as tied to contemporary classical as it is to jazz—Davis’ music is just as much a visceral experience. A similar duality is present in her personality: A soft-spoken modesty comes across at first, but it’s inner confidence and self-possession that make the lasting impression. These qualities have helped make the Calgary- bred Davis, 33, one of the more highly regarded composer-improvisers on the New York scene.

On the heels of a quintet album released March 18—Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed)—Davis put out two more albums this fall: Massive Threads (Thirsty Ear), her second solo piano disc, and the all-improvised LARK (Skirl), documenting a collective with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, trumpeter Ralph Alessi and drummer Tom Rainey.

Set for release next year is Waiting For You To Grow, the second album by her trio with Rainey and bassist John Hébert. The title refers to her writing and recording the music while pregnant with her first child. Balancing creative work with new motherhood, Davis then finished composing an album-length suite for an unusual octet—four bass clarinets, guitar, piano, organ, drums—that she will premiere in January at Roulette in Brooklyn, then record in the studio.

Davis has recorded eight albums as a leader in a decade. That’s in addition to two albums with Paradoxical Frog, her collaborative trio with Laubrock and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Davis’ drive stems in part from the way she first pursued her life in music, having left Calgary at 17 to study jazz piano in Toronto. “I’ve always had a commitment to working hard,” she said. “That comes from when I first left home—I had this fear: ‘Am I going to be able to do this and make it?’ That has stuck with me.”

Once in New York, Davis didn’t take long to develop a soundprint marked by a horizontal, line-oriented method rather than one that’s vertical and chord-centered. Early jazz influences had included Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, followed by such mentors as saxophonist Tony Malaby. Lately, she has been drawn to modernist composers. Her first solo album, Aeriol Piano (Clean Feed), included prepared piano à la John Cage. There’s a piece on Massive Threads based on György Ligeti’s étude The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; another had her musing, “What if Morton Feldman played Monk?” Her upcoming trio album includes a number titled “Berio,” after Luciano. She said, “The discipline of learning to play Ligeti or Berio makes you relate different physically to the keyboard—and that can open up new approaches.”

Residency at Cornelia Street

As part of a residency at Cornelia Street Cafe, I will perform with 2 of my well established groups and one experimental ensemble. This will take place on the last Saturday of September, October and November.  See below…

September 28th- Kris Davis Trio with Tom Rainey and John Hebert.  Performing the music I composed for the Jazz Gallery Residency  in April.

October 26th- LARK! CD release party (on Skirl Records) with Ingrid Laubrock, Ralph Alessi and Tom Rainey. (We are also playing at Edgefest on the October 24th in Ann Arbor as part of the CD release).

November 30th- ‘Experimental Quartet’ with Sam Newsome-soprano saxophone, William Parker-bass, Ches Smith-drums

Vision Festival and Red Hook Festival this week

Really looking forward to playing with Eric Revis’s trio (Eric Revis, myself and Andrew Cyrille) again at the Vision Festival (Saturday June 15th at 8:45).   Also looking forward to playing with LARK (Ralph Alessi, Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey and myself) at the Red Hook Jazz Festival (June 16th at 1pm).

Heres the New York Times Review of Eric’s new record ‘City of Ayslum’:

The performance to write home about at this year’s Winter Jazzfest was a freely improvised set by the bassist Eric Revis, the pianist Kris Davis and the drummer Andrew Cyrille: musicians of intrepid poise, foraging together in deep communion. “City of Asylum” (Clean Feed) offers a comparable experience. Mr. Revis, who has earned a reputation for hard-swinging brio in the Branford Marsalis Quartet, works here with mystery and indirection. Mr. Cyrille, an avant-garde eminence in his 70s, and Ms. Davis, an ascendant talent in her 30s, explore a language largely defined by common touchstones, like the pianists Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill.

The album has three proper compositions —  a slinky Revis original (“Question”), a Thelonious Monk tune (“Gallop’s Gallop”) and a hymn by Keith Jarrett (“Prayer”) — but its lifeblood is the uncharted territory, spread across seven tracks that cohere as a whole. What that material reveals is the quality of the listening among the players, an abstract ideal made nearly tangible.

Residency at the Jazz Gallery and European Tour

Through the Jerome Foundation, the Jazz Gallery commissioned me to compose a series of new works in the month of April.  I composed a series of new pieces for my working trio with Tom Rainey and John Hebert.  Looking forward to premiering the new music in Europe next week (see dates below) and in New York City at the Jazz Gallery May 10th and 11th.  We go into the studio right after the performances to make a new CD on Cleanfeed Records, to be release some time in early 2014.

May 1- Stadtgarten, Cologne, Germany

May 2nd- Bimhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

May 3rd- AJMi, Avignon, France

May 4th- Jamboree, Barcelona, Spain

May 5th- National Jazz Scene, Oslo, Norway

May 10th and 11th- Jazz Gallery, NY, NY

 

 

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