Drummer Tyshawn Sorey is a very interesting young player. In only a few years, he's made a substantial impact on the East Coast scene, playing with saxophonists Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, and Steve Lehman, trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Dave Douglas, pianist Vijay Iyer, and many others. As that list of collaborators and employers should imply, Sorey is a cerebral and introspective player whose work frequently eschews traditional swing for a more fractured, impressionistic approach to rhythm and the role of percussion in jazz. And when he's working as a leader, his work sometimes has almost nothing to do with jazz, as this album proves. Koan is performed using guitar, bass, and drums, and the six pieces, three of which are more than ten minutes each, occupy a space somewhere between Bill Frisell and Morton Feldman, with a few hints of recent recordings by Earth thrown in. The guitar and bass ring out, single notes and gently struck chords hanging in the air like coils of smoke as Sorey uses the drum kit as a third melodic device, only rarely attempting to drive the other two players in one direction or another. The music's slow motion twists and turns occasionally recall European improv, but just as frequently hint at chamber music. This is a very beautiful album that seems to open up a little more each time it's played.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman