Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - Page 12 News List

CD reviews

The Terror, by The Flaming Lips; Be not so Long to speak, by Bobby Avey

By Jon Pareles and Ben Ratliff  /  NY Times News Service

You may not have heard much about Avey unless you keep track of the saxophonist Dave Liebman, with whom he’s worked off and on since 2006, before he graduated from music school. That year they made a duo record together, Vienna Dialogues, playing versions of classical lieder. Four years later, with his trio and Liebman as a special guest, Avey put out his first record, A New Face. He’s played with the excellent saxophonist Miguel Zenon, both in Avey’s own group and in a recent project called Authority Melts From Me, based on his field research of Voodoodrumming in Haiti. You’d think what he’d want to do now is work his trio all over the place, establishing a group sound and a live presence. Instead, here’s a profound, moody solo-piano album. It’s the cart before the horse, in a good way.

Be Not So Long makes sense within the context of a handful of records from the last 40 years or so, first-time solo-piano records by musicians with something to say: Don Pullen’s Solo Piano Album, Matthew Shipp’s Symbol Systems, Jason Moran’s Modernistic, Vijay Iyer’s Solo, Brad Mehldau’s Live in Tokyo, Harold O’Neal’s Marvelous Fantasy, and Craig Taborn’s Avenging Angel. Like those, this has the unmistakable feel of an attempt at doing something new. Most of these tracks are Avey’s own compositions, or the frames of them, filled in with elaborations and dream-world repetitions. Sometimes, as in Isolation of Rain, those repetitions, and generous use of the sustain pedal, are ends in themselves; other times, as in his reharmonized, slightly bitter version of Stardust, there’s clever and careful development, a true beginning and end. Keep an eye on this guy.

— Ben Ratliff, NY Times News Service

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