The Squid's Ear Magazine


Davis, Anthony / Kyle Motl / Kjell Nordeson: Vertical Motion [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

Bassist Kyle Motl organized this 2018 studio session with pianist Anthony Davis and drummer Kjell Nordeson in San Diego, Nordeson and Motl having worked together for several years, their session with Davis focused on the pianist's literary-influenced compositions, the synergy in their trio playing of energetic and introspective interaction absolutely exemplary.
 

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Personnel:



Anthony Davis-piano

Kyle Motl-bass

Kjell Nordeson-drums


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Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS227
Squidco Product Code: 34896

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Warren Studio A, at UC, in San Diego, California, on February 13th, 2018, by Andrew Munsey and Andres Gutierre Martinez.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"In 2018, I had the good fortune to organize a session with two absolute heroes of music: Anthony Davis, and Kjell Nordeson. I'd been playing with Kjell in various groups for a few years, and had been studying with Anthony at UC San Diego; the three of us had played as a trio a handful of times.

For the session, we played some of Anthony's older works, including some which referenced The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. With that idea of literature and music in mind, I brought some minimal pieces taking literary inspiration, Vertical Motion - referencing the story by Can Xue, and Labyrinths - in obvious reference to Jorge Luis Borges. We also improvised freely, some of those improvisations became the Fictions tracks.

"Lady of the Mirrors" is a classic Anthony Davis piece, most notably appearing on the solo piano record of the same name. Here, it allows different forms of interaction between voices and space. "Vertical Motion" and "Labyrinths" were both written with Anthony and Kjell's improvisational prowess and ability to develop material in mind: pretty bare sequences and themes that allow everyone to take an idea and really stretch.

The recording sat on the shelf half-forgotten for some years before I went through and picked the tracks that showed the improvisational interplay of the group in its best light.

It was truly an honor to make the music on this record."-Kyle Motl



"The release of Vertical Motion in the run-up to the Metropolitan Opera's staging of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X is a timely - and way overdue - reminder that Anthony Davis is a brilliant pianist. Unfortunately, the decades-long road Davis took to become the premier American opera composer of our times has been at the expense of his output as a performer. As much as anyone, Davis represented an emergent generation 40 years ago, one that had digested the revolutionary impulses of the 1960s and the restructuralism of the 1970s, and were defining the last decades of 20th Century through music based on new relationships between notated and improvised materials. However, the enormous amount of time required to create a string of masterpieces like Amistad and The Central Park Five effectively truncated, for starters, a budding legacy of solo recordings like Past Lives, Lady of the Mirrors, and Middle Passage. Frankly, his few recordings of the past dozen years - Cerulean Landscape, his 2010 duets with Jason Robinson, and his performance of "Wayang No. 5" with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project on the 2014 collection Notes from the Underground - are simply not enough. We need more of Anthony Davis the pianist and we need him now.

However, this studio set with bassist Kyle Motl and drummer Kjell Nordeson does not necessarily signal that Davis is rocketing back. It was recorded in 2018 at the University of California San Diego, where Davis teaches and Nordeson earned his PhD months later that year. And, it is not a Davis album, per se. It is a collective effort; a welcomed reprise of "Lady of the Mirrors" is the pianist's only contribution, the rest of the program comprised of two assertive Motl compositions and a robust improvisation. The level of interplay and the risk-taking evident throughout the album suggests that this was more than the occasional hang; with all three artists striking flints at every turn, Vertical Motion is one of those albums that capture a group vaulting to the next level. They had - and still have, presumably - the stuff of a going concern, which makes the half-decade lag between recording and issuance even more baffling.

Back in the day, the rap on Davis by the likes of Stanley Crouch was that his playing was too cerebral and mannered - not nearly enough swagger, muscle and blood and guts. That was debatable then, but not now. Davis unleashes great swells of sound with nearly concussive intensity at several points on the album, placing the quicksilver single-note runs and the keen sense of opening space for his collaborators through chiseled phrases that distinguished his playing 40 years ago in a fresh light. The difference between then and now may be that Davis then was on the epochal mission encapsulated by his phrase, "the ascendence of the composer." With his flag planted on the summit of American opera and concert music, the unfettered energy of his playing on Vertical Motion suggests that Davis now feels free - at least in his spare hours - to play without regard to anything but the moment at hand. The results are invigorating."-Bill Shoemaker, Point of Departure


Get additional information at Point of Departure

Artist Biographies

"Anthony Davis (born February 20, 1951), is an American jazz pianist, composer, and student of gamelan music. Davis is best known for his operas including X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X, which was premiered by the New York City Opera in 1986, Amistad, which premiered with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1997, and Wakonda's Dream, which premiered at Opera Omaha in 2007.

Davis was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He taught at Yale University and Harvard University, and has played with Anthony Braxton and Leo Smith. In 1981, Davis formed an octet called Episteme. He also wrote the incidental music for the Broadway version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. He incorporates several styles including jazz, rhythm 'n' blues, gospel, non-Western, African, European classical, Indonesian, and experimental music.

Davis has received acclaim as a free-jazz pianist, a co-leader or sideman with various ensembles. Such ensembles include those that featured Smith as bandleader from 1974 to 1977.

Davis is professor of music at the University of California, San Diego. His opera Wakonda's Dream is a tale of a contemporary Native American family and the history that affects them.

His opera Lilith (libretto by Allan Havis) had its world premiere at the Conrad Prebys Music Center in UCSD on December 4, 2009. The story is about Adam's first wife, set in a modern era."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Davis_(composer))
7/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Kyle Motl is a bassist, composer, and improviser. Active in a variety of ensembles and settings, Kyle's work crosses the boundaries between idioms as wide as free jazz, contemporary concert music, and extreme metal. Current interests include extended harmonic techniques for solo bass improvisation, electroacoustic performance with live electronics and improvising software, modular compositional schemes, recursive and generative structuring, and exploration of complex sonic spectra.

Kyle is a member of the Peter Kuhn Trio, and has been performing in quartet and trio with Abbey Rader since 2011. He maintains regular duo projects with T.J. Borden, Adam Tinkle, and Drew Ceccato. The Kyle Motl Trio, featuring Kjell Nordeson and Tobin Chodos is a collaborative platform for new compositions weaving complex structures together with free improvisation. Kyle has performed alongside artists including Anthony Davis, Kidd Jordan, Mary Halvorson, Roscoe Mitchell, Mark Dresser, and Wadada Leo Smith, among others.

Kyle holds a BM from Florida Atlantic University and an MM from Florida International University. He is a DMA candidate at UC San Diego, where he studies bass with Mark Dresser."

-Kyle Motl Website (http://www.kylemotl.com/about/biography/)
7/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Drummer/vibes player Kjell Nordeson, who was born in 1964, currently lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. Nordeson studied classical percussion with Björn Liljeqvist, principal percussionist of the Stockholm Philharmonic. In 1986, Nordeson formed the longstanding AALY Trio with Mats Gustafsson. Nordeson has also collaborated with such musicians as Sten Sandell, Christer Bothén, Peter Söderberg, David Stackenäs, Martin Küchen, and Fredrik Ljunkvist. As a member of the AALY Trio, Low Dynamic Orchestra, Nacka Forum, Katzen Kapell, Firehouse, and Exploding Customer, Nordeson enjoys a healthy high profile in the Swedish music scene.

In North America and Europe, Nordeson has done numerous tours with the AALY Trio and School Days. He has played in collaborations with Peter Brötzmann, Barry Guy, Joe Morris, William Parker, Paul Rutherford, Stephano Scodanibbio, and Ken Vandermark. In 1994, Nordeson founded Co. Alba with choreographer Nathalie Ruiz, which is also a platform for his work as a composer. Together, Ruiz and Nordeson produced a number of dance performances; the latest is the short film Désiré, a commission by Swedish Television. Nordeson has worked in theatre performances in Riksteatern, and The Royal Dramatic Theatre and Stadsteater in Stockholm. With choreographer Philippe Blanchard's ensemble Adekwhat, he toured Germany, Finland, Israel, and Egypt."

-Nuscope (http://nuscope.org/musicians/kjell-nordeson/)
7/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



SIDE A



1. Vertical Motion 08:04

2. Fictions I 13:20

SIDE B



1. Lady of the Mirrors 06:58

2. Labyrinths 13:10

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Jazz & Improvisation Based on Compositions
Piano Trio (Piano Bass Drums)
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

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