Kris Davis’ Diatom Ribbons Trio
with Terri Lyne Carrington & Val Jeanty
Kris Davis’s piano playing, says The New York Times, “has a peculiar appeal: Rarely does such serrated, asymmetrical music—often diced up into odd time signatures, or improvised freely—feel this fun to listen to.”
A prolific bandleader who prestidigitates an album a year and a sought-after player with the likes of Mary Halvorson and Craig Taborn, Davis has been a staple of the New York jazz scene since joining it from Vancouver twenty years ago. She’s produced superlative work while striving to make high-level improvised music more accessible, both for listeners rapt by the weave of her playing and for women in the field. (Two years ago, Davis took a key role at the new Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice at the Berklee College of Music.) Her 2019 album, Diatom Ribbons, took its name from the single-cell algae that produce much of our breathable oxygen, and the aptness of the metaphor of miniscule patterns unleashing airy life hardly needs stating.
To record the album, Davis wrangled eight musicians from varied worlds (and guest vocals from Esperanza Spalding); to bring it to Big Ears, she boils the group down to a trio. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, praised by the Times for her “prismatic nuance” on the record, is a three-time Grammy winner who toured extensively with Herbie Hancock, while turntablist Val Jeanty, who sliced and diced interviews with Davis inspirations like Cecil Taylor and Olivier Messiaen on the album, will be present to add even more unpredictability to the pianist’s rhizomatic wonders.