Review | Hold still. Can you hear Qasim Naqvi’s jazz stopping time?


The 12 months’s finish could be a gratifying time to hearken to the world, not less than on this hemisphere. Fewer vehicles on the street. Much less solar within the sky. Birds migrate south. Folks migrate indoors. No extra leaves rustling within the bushes overhead, which transforms the sound of the wind right into a uninteresting push in opposition to no matter’s left standing. But in all of this empty stillness, our ears are likely to develop into extra alert, making us really feel like there’s increasingly to listen to.

An analogous paradox animates “Two Centuries,” an excellent album that the composer Qasim Naqvi dropped again within the summertime, however whose spaciousness and equanimity feels most worthy of our consideration proper now. It’s the primary collaboration between Naqvi and two of his mentors, percussionist Andrew Cyrille and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, veteran jazz heroes each.

Naqvi studied with Cyrille on the New Faculty within the mid-’90s and with Smith at CalArts in 2006 — the album title is a nod to the centurial hump between enrollments. After his classes with Smith, Naqvi was finest referred to as the drummer from Dawn of Midi, a mesmerizing trio that approached polyrhythm with an exhilarating, virtually scientific tenacity. However on this three-piece, Naqvi performs modular and Minimoog synthesizers, machines he persistently makes use of to spill wealthy melodies into skinny puddles.

Cyrille is keen to splash round in them, following his scholar’s timbral cues and making his drum equipment flicker with out ever pushing the clock. This capacity — to cease time quite than hold it — has all the time felt like the nice achievement of Cyrille’s drumming, and you’ll catch it most viscerally in “The Curve” as he brushes his snare throughout a closing crescendo that evaporates into itself.

As for Smith, his mastery of destructive house is in full impact. He makes his horn communicate in superbly smeared notes, then stands again, as if to ponder the musical shapes he simply left hanging within the air. On “For D.F.,” the album’s first and most elegant lower, his phrases take form like awakening ideas, whereas Naqvi’s synth drones coalesce into an intertwined gesture of assist and respect.

“What I really like about improvised music is that an artist is allowed to age with grace on their instrument,” Naqvi says within the album’s liner notes. “Their language evolves and distills over time into this important sound. Andrew and Wadada have lived such lengthy and inventive lives and I needed this album to embrace the place they’re at now.”

There’s an apparent poetry in that intention. Naqvi’s octogenarian mentors have traveled so mindfully by means of their years, they appear to have discovered the right way to liberate their music from time itself. However nothing ever actually stays put. Time retains transferring, and so do they — and if you happen to hearken to “Two Centuries” along with your quietest thoughts, assorted illusions of stillness may flash throughout your consciousness, slideshow-style: a glassy pond. A snowy bluff. A dumpster full of unknowable decomposition. Electrical energy flowing by means of a wire. Blood flowing by means of a limb. Neurons firing. Reminiscences forming. Human life silently listening to its personal hum.

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