January Artist Feature: Kris Davis

(photo by Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net)

In recent years, Kris Davis has emerged as one of the most talented pianists and composers of her generation working in New York City. Her projects have become increasingly ambitious and exploratory, even as she develops a richer musicality in her compositions. There is a freshness in her approach, and while there is a thread that ties together all of her work to date, she remains unpredictable as she unveils each new project.

Davis leads a trio and quintet in her name and has gained recognition for her solo performances. She also is active in the collaborative trio, Paradoxical Frog, with Ingrid Laubrock and Tyshawn Sorey. On Monday, January 6, she will reveal her latest work: Infrasound. The band is comprised of four bass clarinets (Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Andrew Bishop, and Joachim Baderhorst), plus guitar (Nate Radley), accordion and organ (Gary Versace), piano (Davis), and drums (Jim Black). The band is also set to record their work for an album due out in 2015.

January Performances by Kris Davis

  • January 6: Kris Davis Infrasound with Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Andrew Bishop, Joachim Badenhorst, Nate Radley, Gary Versace, Jim Black at Roulette 8 pm $20
  • January 14: Kris Davis Capricorn Climber Quintet with Mat Maneri, Ingrid Laubrock, Trevor Dunn, Tom Rainey at Cornelia Street Café 8:30 pm $10

Interview

I had the opportunity to do a short interview with Kris Davis about Infrasound in late December.

Cisco Bradley: When did you first begin working on the Infrasound project?

Kris Davis: I have always wanted to write for this instrumentation and was given the opportunity to do so when I received a grant this year from the Shifting Foundation.  I started working on writing for the project in July, a month before my son was born.  It has been a real challenge to find time to write for a large group with a newborn, and I’m particularly proud of completing this project in such a transitional and exhausting time!

CB: The formation is fascinating (4 bass clarinets, guitar, accordion/organ, piano, drums), almost certainly a unique lineup. What sonic possibilities are you exploring with this group?

KD: I was always excited about the sonic possibilities for this group–at times I treat the bass clarinets as a string quartet and at times a thick bass line.  The organ will add another layer of depth to the low end, and there are so many possibilities with the guitar, piano and organ.  This is what I explored in the writing process, but I won’t know if it works until the day before our concert at Roulette!

CB: How did you go about selecting the musicians for the octet?

KD: The musicians in the group are some of my favorite musicians–they are people I have played with in the past in other groups, and I wanted to have a chance to play my music with them.

CB: How does this project relate to your other work?

KD: I feel this project is a continuation of my writing. The orchestration and sonic possibilities were completely foreign to me and I enjoyed working on that challenge.

Selected Discography

  • Kris Davis Solo – Massive Threads (Thirsty Ear, 2013)
  • Kris Davis Quintet – Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed, 2013)
  • Kris Davis Solo – Aeriol Piano (Clean Feed, 2012)
  • Paradoxical Frog – Union (Clean Feed, 2012)
  • Kris Davis Trio – Good Citizen (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2010)
  • Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey – Paradoxical Frog (Clean Feed, 2010)