This hard-hitting self-produced album by pianist Dred Scott’s trio, released alongside an experimental solo recording entitled Prepared Piano, features seven original tracks penned by the leader and an adventurous take on Miles Davis and Victor Feldman’s “Seven Steps to Heaven.” The compositions and performances balance heady modernism with accessibility, demonstrating a cheeky playfulness in the process.
Scott is supported by longtime bandmates Ben Rubin on bass and Tony Mason on drums. (This trio has been holding down an acclaimed residency at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall for the past six years.) Clocking in at a concise 44:44, the album winds through moods and temperaments, Scott telling different, often contradicting stories with each hand. The driving “Mojo Rhythm (Son of Yaah!)” sustains an aggressive rhythm, with Scott employing booming block chords and throwing in an irreverent “fuck you” mid-tune. The sumptuous and stirring “Press Play” and “Schneidleweiss” follow, their lyrical, tender quality not devoid of darker moments. “Apropos of Nothing” is angular yet languorous; the swinging “That Lick I Invented” displays the pianist’s affection for vintage bop and showcases Rubin’s deep, exploratory tone. “Seven Steps to Heaven” closes out the album with both reverence and abandon. Rhythmically frenetic yet wide open, it is nevertheless highly evocative of the original.
Scott’s has asserted that this is his “last jazz record,” and hopefully that statement is simply emblematic of his prankish, tongue-in-cheek approach. We need to hear more from this strong, distinct voice.