Whoever may believe that he has found, in this book, a collection of recipes through which he can effortlessly obtain honor, fame, wealth and power or the means to annihilate his enemies should be told that eventually he will very disappointedly put this book aside.
If you go by his recorded output, there’s never a time that trumpeter Taylor Haskins has been normal. His early recordings show an intuitive awareness of the meeting points of post-bop and indie-rock, and his acuity in that particular area resulted in some music that rivaled what other like-minded souls, such as Ben Allison and Kneebody were doing at the time. The passing of time saw Haskins’ sound evolving into music that focused increasingly on melodic possibilities and how they would thrive in different environments. There was the folk-jazz of 2010’s American Dream, the chamber strings of 2014’s Fuzzy Logic and the 2011 electro-acoustic project Recombination. While a strong electronic presence is nothing new for Haskins, Recombination was emblematic of something more definitive. His newest recording Gnosis very much presents itself as the penultimate vision of that particular area of exploration.
The 34-year-old Manhattan-resident Cuban pianist David Virelles can sound like a 21st-century jazz heir to Herbie Hancock in other people’s bands (Tomasz Stanko’s, Chris Potter’s) – but his own preferences are for avant-grooving, as on last year’s Antenna and the broadly sourced contemporary classical music that informs a good deal of Gnosis. This session, with strings, flute, vocals and four percussionists led by the Cuban drums guru Roman Diaz, sees Virelles deepening his exploration of the fission points between ancient African Cuban traditions and the music of his own era.
In "Gnosis", the Santiago de Cuba-raised and New York-based pianist-composer David Virelles looks towards one melting pot from the vantage point of another. At one level an autobiographical album, a sequence of images conveyed through sound, Gnosis is a far- reaching work with deep roots. Transculturation and traditions are among the subjects under consideration, and the complex tapestry of Cuba’s music: the sacred, the secular, and the ritualistic. It’s an exciting, vivid and multi-faceted project of rapidly changing temperament, in which pulsating ensemble music and pristine, meditative solo piano both have their places. And it is enveloped in a feeling of mystery and magic that has made each of Virelles’s albums special.