Davis is also a pianist who is very aware of the breadth of sonic possibilities that the piano offers. She embraces prepared piano techniques, plucks on the strings, and uses dynamics and color in both subtle and dramatic ways. On “Saturn Return,” she balances low, dark, and ominous chords, peppered with plinks of the prepared piano, as counterpoints to flighty upper register melodies. Her raw and unabashed rhythmic accompaniment is reminiscent of the violent hits of Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring.” She follows that up with a dreamy and pensive impressionistic piece called “A Different Kind of Sleep,” where she combines slow arpeggiated chords with the tense brightness of plucking strings to create a calm and introverted sound.
Davis often uses melodic and rhythmic shapes to develop her pieces. Instead of being tied together by harmony or a singable melody line, her pieces adhere through patterns of intervals and rhythmic bits. When she isn't patiently floating through a tune, she can be heard pounding out fragmented rhythms and disjointed phrases. On “Good Citizen,” she puts the chaotic side of her music on display by throwing wild and fast runs within repeated shapes and phrases. On “Beam The Eyes,” she starts out with spacious, detached phrases, and slowly develops them to a fever pitch of dense aggression.
Overall, Aeriol Piano is an interesting and contemplative work that showcases not only Davis' unique musical vocabulary, but also her patient and sensitive exploration of the sonic possibilities of the piano. Despite being a solo venture, the album never comes off as self-indulgent, and the tracks are mostly short, making for a mostly effortless listening experience. More contemporary classical than jazz perhaps, it is an excellent entry from one of the more interesting rising piano stars of New York.
September 19th, 2011 on Clean Feed Records
- All the Things You Are
- Saturn Return
- A Different Kind of Sleep
- Good Citizen
- Beam the Eyes
- The Last Time
- Work for Water