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Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)

The pianist leads a quintet on his latest album

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Matt Mitchell, Phalanx Ambassadors
The cover of Phalanx Ambassadors by Matt Mitchell

Matt Mitchell’s vision is a model of wonky brilliance. The magnitude of his personal and artistic ambition has been stated clearly enough on previous Pi productions and through many other wildly unique associations, but recordings like this remind us that he’s always brewing something fresh. 

Leading a quintet through hyper-specific hinterlands, Mitchell revels in the act of creation. There’s a jostling camaraderie at play early on, as the eponymous ensemble navigates the first three slanted scenes—the knotty “stretch goal” and miniatures “taut pry” and “zoom romp”—with warped precision. Sophisticated, intense, and filled with information-dense thickets, the music has gravity that’s hard to escape.

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Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.