June 2007

The Kris Davis Quartet & Cauley-Thomson-Sorbara
Leftover Daylight Series
June 20, 2007 ArrayMusic Studio Toronto
From, Jazz Kitchen Sink Drama to Jazz Conservatory
by David Fujino
"Henry! ... Hen-ry!" saxophonist Cauley cried out.

This began a flow of contributions from Thomson and Sorbara who, along with Cauley, spent the next 30 minutes engaging in an aimiable version of open form improvisation.

Christopher Cauley is leaning forward in his chair. His bob-and-weave and wrung saxophone patterns are mental and body-based. Trombone swoons and slippery virtuosity fill the air and you appreciate Scott Thomson's creative and participatory mind. Meanwhile, from Joe Sorbara's there corner, an ongoing patented stringy shreak from a bowed cymbal establishes the rhythm. In general, a kind of sonic, antic theatre fills the room.

Things change. Successive bass drum hits, then a patch of good old swinging delivers us to a later segment in which Cauley slowly smacks a beer bottle on his chair leg; Thomson darts in and out of the rhythm; and, from palm to palm, Sorbara tosses a small cluster of bells.

Then they stopped, and Christopher Cauley emphatically agreed with an audience member — "We play short." They played 30 minutes.

In contrast, the Kris Davis Quartet from New York was all about improvisations based on the pattern-generating and repeating notes of her compositions. This evening they would play 5 compositions from her forthcoming second CD.

The set began with a fisted piano rhythm like garbage cans pounding. Malaby's tenor rose up out of this, holding a note over the bowed see-saw of bassist Eivind Opsvik. The duet continued, with Malaby screeling in the altissimo range and Opsvik now droning with head bent down. A long piano/drum line functioned as a through line for the music's expressive dissonances, the tenor tonal ping-pong of Malaby, and the droning tones of bassist Opsvik.

The composition, "Empty Bucket", ended quiet and sounding a bit like Paul Bley. It started as a rhapsodic tenor statement, where Davis's piano dissonances upped the growing tension and drummer Jeff Davis — in somewhat typical mode — both conducted and urged on and rolled with the waves of music.

Kris Davis
Kris Davis, I realized, is fond of repeating phrases, like in "Prairie Lives" where the piano generated an anxious repeating motif, darkened then by the onset of bass and drums. When Malaby played low and bluesy, it proved to be a heart-felt prelude and return to the repeating, travelling phrases that began this piece.

Also, I realized that Malaby is the soloist — in the sense of a main soloist — in the compositions of Kris Davis. He's the avant lyric voice in this music of pattern-making and droning repeats.

They played approximately 75 minutes. There weren't near enough of us in the audience this night.

Christopher Cauley — sopranino sax
Scott Thomson — trombone
Joe Sorbara — drums, percussion

The Kris Davis Quartet
Kris Davis — piano
Jeff Davis — drums
Eivind Opsvik — bass

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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