Continuing is American drummer-composer Tyshawn Sorey’s follow-up to Mesmerism and The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism, his two critically-acclaimed 2022 releases (both on Pi Recordings) that feature Sorey’s surprising forays into classic, swinging jazz. Continuing features the same trio that played in these albums– Sorey on drums, pianist Aaron Diehl and double bass player Matt Brewer – but the atmosphere is different. The trio plays in a much more expansive and spacious mode, as if it occupies a huge stage, allowing its democratic dynamics to breathe deeply throughout the four classic pieces. Sorey, Diehl and Brewer explore more angles and possibilities within these pieces while maintaining the performances’ attention to melody, groove, swing, and the blues, and, obviously, solidifying the trio’s masterful and profound rapport.
Continuing was recorded at Firehouse 12 in New Haven in December 2022 and is dedicated to pianist Harold Mabern, an important mentor to Sorey, with whom he studied at William Paterson University, who passed away in 2019 and still is a central influence for this album. The relaxed atmosphere of Continuing is inspired by the McCoy Tyner album Night of Ballads & Blues (Impulse!, 1963), with an emphasis on getting deeper into the music and its feel rather than clever arrangements and flashy individual solos.
The album begins with an iconic hard bop piece of another hero who passed recently, Wayne Shorter’s «Reincarnation Blues», originally released on Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ Buhaina’s Delight (Blue Note, 1961). It is performed beautifully with exceptional quiet intensity and patient, economic reading of this iconic piece, but stressing its immediate emotional impact. The following piece is another homage to a departed hero, Ahmad Jamal’s «Seleritus», originally released in Portfolio of Ahmad Jamal (Argo, 1959). The trio reflects faithfully the way that Jamal swings hard with well-developed, deep grooves but in a more subtle and lyrical manner.
The performance of Matt Dennis and Earl K. Brent’s «Angel Eyes» required a laser-focused concentration performance in order to fully explore its subtle modulations and glacial tempo and the trio reading of this standard sounds like an introspective, bluesy meditation of this loved song. This brilliant album is concluded with Mabren’s «In What Direction Are You Headed», which originally appeared on Lee Morgan’s eponymous final album (The Last Session, Blue Note, 1972), concluding its series of homages to seminal heroes, with a propulsive and funky, uplifting mode, deeper and deeper into the addictive groove.
Tyshawn Sorey (drums), Aaron Diehl (piano), Matt Brewer (double bass)