Anyone who knows almost any earlier work by Tyshawn Sorey will be eager to hear him every time he performs live or when a new studio performance is released. Now there is an even greater reason for even an impatient enthusiasm to such to hear Mr Sorey: Verisimilitudeis here. This is – after The Inner Spectrum of Variables – establishes his unassailable position on a don’t-touch-me pinnacle all his own. It is a programme of characterful music and nervous systems go haywire when confronted with this committed performance by Mr. Sorey with the trio that includes pianist Corey Smythe and bassist Chris Tordini to share the remarkable vision of their drummer/leader.
Clearly balancing the early influences of the European avant-garde of the 19th century and the American avant-garde of the 20th century with his deeply reverent heartbeat that comes from being born of the eternal nature of the African diaspora, Tyshawn Sorey has created here, a repertoire that not only doffs a proverbial hat to the philosophical “truthlikeness” advanced by Karl Popper, but also uses the philosopher’s own word – “verisimilitude” – to give vent to his (Mr Sorey’s) music with its nervy gestures and tricky-to-balance textures at once subsumed into a cumulative sweep of “le paysage artistique” and “vérité mathématique”; between the relative and apparent (or seemingly so) truth and falsity of (in this specific instance) artistic assertions and hypotheses of the neural and the aural faculties.
Throughout the music is full of colour and the unique rhythms of Mr Sorey’s, advanced in sparkling cascades and swooning, seductively unfolding melodies in the face of wonderful harmonies redolent of muscular and earthy tones even in such work as “Flowers for Prashant” and “Contemplating Tranquillity” with their often delicious, un-portentous lightness of touch often announced not only by Mr Sorey but also by Mr Smythe’s piano. The faculties of the latter are simply outstanding on the beautifully pedalled cadenza in the crowded outhouse of music which reaches its quiet climax all-but-drowned by the orchestral timpani of “”Obsidian”.
Both Corey Smythe and Chris Tordini play their way through the music with wonderful intuition revealing a colourful and lively composer who is also deeply contemplative at the same time. This is a devastatingly powerful combination for Tyshawn Sorey to have and he makes full use of this gift by making the black dots of his music rise to eminence in wave after wave of music impelled by visceral energy, which in turn makes his drums thunder and roll while emitting its baritone roar that rises over and ducks under the bass and piano. The result is a performance by Mr Sorey that embraces judicious soli with ensembles that are hair-raising in the stabbing fortissimos on the drum skins and astonishing, sometimes barely audible pianissimos that echo and fade from lightly-brushed cymbals and faraway bells.
Such magnificence would surely be hard to top, though hardly ever, it would seem, for Tyshawn Sorey.
Track list – 1: Cascade in Slow Motion; 2: Flowers for Prashant; 3: Obsidian; 4: Algid November; 5: Contemplating Tranquility
Personnel – Tyshawn Sorey: drums and percussion; Corey Smythe: piano, toy piano and electronics; Chris Tordini: bass
Released – 2017
Label – Pi Recordings
Run time – 1: 18:57