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Cooper-Moore/Tom Abbs/Chad Taylor: Triptych Myth

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Pianist/home-made instrument player Cooper-Moore is not an easy player to figure out. He’s turned up on records with Bill Cole’s Untempered Ensemble, William Parker and in one particularly good incarnation of Susie Ibarra’s trio. He can play with Cecil Taylor-like intensity and range but he also presents other sides to his playing-radically different styles and temperaments-without seeming concerned at all with reconciling those styles. Anyone hoping to get a bead on Cooper-Moore will find little of help on Triptych Myth.

The recording is every bit as frustrating as it is engrossing. On “Spatter Matter” or the opener “Stem Cell,” Cooper-Moore shows that aforementioned Cecil Taylor influence, though coupled with a winning impishness and a half-hidden melodicism. “The Fox,” however, is a desultory bit of reggae that fades out without going anywhere. “Nautilus” is the sort of spacious, gentle piece that might have turned up on an ECM record somewhere. Cooper-Moore spells out the theme with little more than a repeating descending interval, and fills out the rest with rolling chords. In side-step melodies and a plunky touch, an otherwise undisclosed Monk influence turns up on one of the several tune fragments the trio tosses into the program.

Taken together, one is left not with the impression that Cooper-Moore affects an eclecticism, which would become tiresome, but rather that he has little interest in any consistent musical identity. In style and strategy, he commits to any given tune and sees it through to the end, but who knows what you’ll get with the next one. What can be said, however, is that Cooper-Moore has found a strong band for this sort of thing. Bassist Tom Abbs and drummer Chad Taylor go where Cooper-Moore goes, swinging lightly or moving aggressively into the forefront in freer modes-whatever the music calls for.