This week, let's get acquainted with pianist Kris Davis, who will be making her St. Louis debut as a leader in a concert presented by New Music Circle on Saturday, February 16 at 560 Music Center.
Davis will be touring in support of her most recent CD, Capricorn Climber, which was released late last year on Clean Feed Records. It features her performing with two of her most frequent collaborators, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey, along with violist Mat Maneri and bassist Trevor Dunn. (For the St. Louis show, bassist Eivind Opsvik will be playing in place of Dunn.)
While this quintet's early gigs reportedly were focused solely on improvisation, according to her website Davis since then has begun to write specifically for them, focusing on compositions that embrace the first meeting...the instant chemistry when improvising, the sonic qualities and blends between the instruments and each individual's ability to shape ideas and create a story using the compositional material."
Originally from Calgary, Canada, Davis, 33, studied classical music through the Royal Conservatory and attended the Banff Centre for the Arts jazz program. She earned a bachelor's degree in jazz piano from the University of Toronto before moving to New Tork in 2001. She since has gone on to get a masters in composition from City College of New York, and now teaches for the School for Improvised Music, City College and Queens College.
Davis has recorded frequently, releasing ten records as a leader or co-leader with various ensembles, including the trio Paradoxical Frog with Laubrock and drummer Tyshawn Sorey; a quartet and big band with saxophonist Tony Malaby; and another trio with Rainey and bassist John Hebert; plus one recording as a solo pianist. In addition to her work as a leader, Davis has performed with musicians such as Tim Berne, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Andrew Cyrille, Mary Halvorson, John Hollenbeck, Chris Speed, and many others.
In 2011, Davis was one of four young piano players featured in a New York Times article titled New Pilots at the Keyboard," For more about the Capricorn Climber project, see this article from the NYC Jazz Record (reproduced on the Clean Feed Records site).
Since the band Davis is bringing to St. Louis seems not to have been documented online so far on video, today we've got some clips featuring Davis in other settings with some of the same musicians.
The first video up above shows her, Laubrock and Rainey in October 2011 at the Jazz & Wine of Peace festival in Italy, followed down below by another clip of the same band a couple of weeks later at the Landesmuseum in Linz, Germany.
Below that, you can see an excerpt from a set by Davis, Laubrock and Tyshawn Sorey in 2010 at the Moers Festival in Germany. Lastly, returning much closer to the present day, the final three embeds show a December 2012 performance by Davis, Laubrock, Rainey, and trumpeter Ralph Alessi at the NYC free improv venue The Stone.
For more about Davis, check out this interview she did in 2011 with The Jazz Session podcast.