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David Chesky Jazz in the New Harmonic: Primal Scream

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Pianist David Chesky is hardly unique in his embrace of both classical music and jazz, nor is his stated mission-to use “harmonic language … from the Messiaen, Webern, and Ives school” to challenge his bandsmen with “chords that they don’t usually hear in jazz”-unheard-of. (Mingus, to cite just one example, covered similar territory decades ago.) Nonetheless, the music Chesky and his compatriots (reedist Javon Jackson, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Billy Drummond) offer up bristles with inspiration.

Like Miles’ Kind of Blue, most of what’s here exudes a dreamlike, meditative feel so seductive that the subversive undercurrent flowing through it can easily be missed. One key is the interplay between Chesky’s edgy melodic conceits-usually expressed dually between sax and trumpet, with one instrument biting off crisply articulated short-note phrases, the other overlaying those phrases with longer, more flowing lines-and Washington and Drummond’s groove-centered rhythms. On several of these outings, Washington lays down a one-chord, almost pedal-point foundation (more echoes of Mingus), prodded by Drummond’s understated, occasionally borderline-funk impetus.

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