Paris Transatlantic review by Jason Bivins

SKM (Stephan Gauci / Kris Davis / Michael Bisio) – THREE (CF 189)
Lyricism and spiderwebbed dissonance from the engaging Kris Davis open up “The End Must Always Come,” and, for all its density and sheer sonic abundance, there’s so much detail in terms of polytonality, registral shifts and rhythmic cross-cutting that her playing is jaw-dropping. When Gauci enters, ragged and antic, Bisio knows just how to wend through or bolt down this kind of playing – listen to his stellar recent duets with Connie Crothers if you need more evidence – as a beautiful bit of repetition seals the piece to a finish. They’re spiky and contrapuntal again on “Like a Dream, a Phantom,” which opens with a lovely duet with Davis and Bisio where the pianist is given stylistically to sudden turns away from dense layers of sound to whip up a sudden rhapsodic swell that sends her crashing back to crab-walk away from the tide in another complex direction. Gauci digs into the rhythmic fragments with great sympathy, riding, transforming and even slowing things down altogether for a lovely balladic space where the saxophonist is simply in the zone. Things change up a bit with the tasteful inside piano and bass-body rhythm on “Something from Nothing,” where Davis’ quicksilver repetitions and variations are almost like Borah Bergmann, via Vijay Iyer. There is dark spaciousness to open the appropriately titled “Groovin’ for the Hell of It,” which in time comes to exult with lower register piano, alto squawks, and shouts. For more groove, dig the nice threeway rhythm on “Still, So Beautiful,” where Gauci sounds like he’s having a blast tossing out curve balls, keeping folks on their toes and playfully fucking with the pulse, even halting altogether at times .”No Reason To or Not To” is the most abstract piece, with plenty of space everywhere, but the trio ends with a return to their sweet spot, the rhythmic race and overlapping lines of “Just to Be Heard.” More deliciousness from the ever-impressive Clean Feed, and a real statement from Davis in particular.

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