Kris Davis: piano; John Hébert: bass; Tom Rainey: drums
The image of a gorgeous young pup – Benjamin, Kris Davis’ son and the dedicatee of this release – adorns the sleeve’s inside. During the pregnancy his mother wondered if the upcoming little guy was able to listen to what she was elaborating at that moment, namely the material you hear in Waiting For You To Grow. We can safely declare that the kid will be trained to something quite special when the school age comes. Let’s just say that if his classmates’ parents are partial to Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert, that might spell trouble.
I have already seen the appellative “Cecil” attached to at least half a hundred of jazz pianists in my life, Davis being no exception. And, get this, I myself committed the same sin more than once. Let me be direct: nary a shard of this album recalled the music of Percival Taylor (insert smile here) in this writer’s memory. Certainly not because of the fast dissonant flurries employed in the opener “Whirly Swirly”, which is indeed most notable for its relatively calmer action, Hébert contributing with uninebriated lines to the angular contrapuntal construction, Rainey – who launches the piece with a robust fusillade – following the path dictated by Davis with analytical drumming intelligence until the whole ends as an inharmoniously thrumming march.
Having said that, we must take account of the Canadian’s desire of eschewing foregone conclusions in her way of composing. Harmonically watchful Davis privileges conscious transitions and wide atonal jumps to scalar unoriginality; a minor second to substantiate a given tone and spice things up rather than a canonical “jazz” inversion to cause the optimistic listener’s resignation. Sometimes she loves stopping on stubbornly reiterated tangled patterns; in spite of the impossibility of materially singing them, they name a peculiar brand of permanence in our mental picture. In “Twice Escaped”, the terrific “Berio”, and in the final title track she tries a little tenderness by enhancing the space encompassing the acoustic events with sparser activity and a slightly lesser degree of rationalism (the latter is highly appreciated on my behalf, but could easily uproot those who crave romantic geometries).
This meeting with a genuinely talented musician was entirely pleasant. What was sensed is the aurally rewarding logical order of the interplay (Hébert and Rainey sound as if they have been living with the scores for decades) and a decisive rejection of routines and formulas typically rearing their ugly heads in analogous contexts. The interest in discovering more – either in this very CD via recurrent spins, or in other works by the same artist – lingers on. Let’s all promise to leave Taylor alone from now on, for completely different spheres of synchronous perceptual experiences are investigated by the man’s artistry.