This really is an astonishing achievement…

PI Recordings CD PI96

Tyshawn Sorey, drums; Greg Osby, alto saxophone; Aaron Diehl, piano; Russell Hall, bass

Recorded at The Jazz Gallery, New York, USA, in March 2022

Tyshawn Sorey is noted for his “incomparable virtuosity, effortless mastery and memorization of highly complex scores, and an extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work”.  This is born out surely by the musicians with whom he has played and collaborated, including amongst them Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith and John Zorn.

He is nationally and internationally renowned also for his compositions for orchestras, individual artists, performance centres and jazz festivals.  He has, of course, taught composition and improvisation in many schools of music, including Berklee College of Music and Columbia University.

And so, to the music, presented as a 3-volume work recorded live.  We might expect it to offer something avant-garde coming from this trio and given the presence of alto saxophonist Greg Osby.  No disappointments there.  The tunes are familiar jazz standards and the title of the album is a play on the original source of many of those tunes – Broadway.  Some of these interpretations were lost to my ears, as the musicians here present have so changed them through the medium and the art of improvisation.

The recordings were made during five nights gigging when the band switched the usual concept of The Jazz Gallery as a venue for experimentation into a rare event for playing established jazz ‘songbook’ numbers, which Tyshawn really misses.

The results, to my ears, are hardly like any ‘standards gig’ that I have previously encountered.  The simple fact that Greg Osby was invited to join the party suggests that the results illustrate the experiment that was intended.  The music and the playing are rare, scorching and irreverently penetrating.  Once out of the starting gate the band play recklessly, song chasing song, with no polite hesitations between tunes, the links being forged instead in the medium of Improv.

This really is an astonishing achievement, one which I am so pleased not to have missed.

Reviewed by Ken Cheetham