Drummer and composer Tyshawn Sorey has been a leading light in the innovative contemporary jazz movement. His trio album Mesmerism (Pi Recordings) was a career high, undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2022. Now, he returns alongside Matt Brewer on bass and Aaron Diehl on piano for four non-originals.
Continuing, which was recorded over two days, opens with Wayne Shorter’s “Reincarnation Blues”, an assuredly crafted back-to-the-basics number stirred by convoluted piano cascades near the end. Fairly softened here, this tune was made public by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, being the fourth track of the veneered drummer’s 1963 album Buhaina’s Delight (Blue Note).
The 15-minute version of Ahmad Jamal’s “Seleritus” is elegantly mounted with a bass pedal point, dreamy piano playing, and refined hi-hat and ride cymbal touches that punctuate the whole with delicacy. There’s a certain modal intonation that is quite alluring, but also this old-time ‘ballroom’ dynamics over which a stylish bass solo takes place. The trio’s affinity for jazz tradition is on display, but Sorey dresses this tune up with excellent tom-tom work by the end, with Diehl throwing in forceful piano chords to pack a punch.
The slow motion returns with the ballad standard “Angel Eyes”. This 1946 composition by Matt Denis gets a rubato treatment at the outset, acquiring a three-time feel while sparingly ornamented with graceful piano and smoothly dragging brushes.
To conclude, the trio tackles Harold Mabern’s “In What Direction Are You Headed?”, a lesser known tune by the late pianist which first appeared on trumpeter Lee Morgan’s The Last Section (Blue Note). Expressed with élan, it is a groove-centered, funk-meets-post-bop piece, which, including a vamping 14-beat cycle controlled by Brewer, is turned motivically playful by Diehl’s skittering turns over the keyboard.
Although effective, as it revives old tunes (both widely known and unsung) that are extremely pleasing to the ear, this new trio session doesn’t match Mesmerism in strength and magnetism.
1. Reincarnation Blues
3. Angel Eyes
4. In What Direction