Best of 2019 #40: Kris Davis, Matt Mitchell, Aruán Ortiz, Matthew Shipp – “New American Songbooks, Volume 2”


The New American Songbooks series seeks to dissect the concept of the Great American Songbook, and translate it to the music of today.  It is as much conceptual exercise as pragmatic creativity.  Jazz musicians, by and large, endlessly practice their craft, and immerse themselves in the music as it was, as it is, and as they want it to be.  They study the jazz masters that came before them, the theory and works that are now part of the lore, and take that knowledge for themselves and make part of their own, personal lore.  It is why the past is often an essential component of new music that might sound alien and unfamiliar and strange.

For the second installment of the New American Songbooks series, pianists Kris Davis, Matt Mitchell, Aruán Ortiz and Matthew Shipp bring together past and present.  As I wrote for The Bandcamp Daily, “[These musicians] are responsible for some of the most challenging, unconventional music on the modern scene- and yet, the way in which they pour their hearts into renditions of traditional hymns, pop music, and avant-garde compositions reveals that, at the core of their music, are thoughtful, contemplative inspirations that are not so different from those felt by anyone else. The performance of each musician on this recording embodies the spirit of the Songbook, and the idea of music possessing a timeless sound that speaks to something universal. I cannot possibly recommend this album strongly enough.”  That recommendation goes for both installments in the series, and, I imagine, those yet to come.

Your album personnel:  Kris Davis (piano), Matt Mitchell (piano), Aruán Ortiz (piano), and Matthew Shipp (piano).

Released on Sound American Records.

Music from Brooklyn, NY.

I wrote about this album for The Bandcamp Daily.

Listen | Read more | Available at: Bandcamp