Sacks/Opsvik/Maneri/Motian: Two Miles a Day (2007)
Two Miles A Day is a recording date spearheaded by 'newbie' composer/performers Jacob Sacks (piano) and Eivind Opsvik (bass), ably abetted by downtown newjack-of-all-trades Mat Maneri (viola and violin) and interactive maestro Paul Motian (drums). An outing of structured volatility, it features the compositions of the co-leaders, rough templates for group interactivity and exploration.
The tracks run short, a series of vignettes that capture a momentthen move on. Opsvik's pieces are moody and opaque: "As We Know It creates tone poetry through a drawn-out violin melody; "Evening Kites has a rock 'n' roll chord progression with a few unexpected bytes of dissonance (like discovering a pebble in your sandwich, the hard way); "Bridge and Tunnel recalls a Jackson Pollock painting, with splashes of spattered color, irrationally logical; "Twelve Days has a chorale texture evoking the ennui of an Ozu film, suggesting a long-lost 'ago' with no specific historical reference (the improvisational equivalent of a "New Lang Syne ); while "Savile Row embodies the middle-of-the-afternoon vibe of the classic Bill Evans Trio Village Vanguard sessions.
Sacks' compositions are separate but equally compelling: "Ha! is angular and abrupt; "Playing with Blocks implies more than it states, shifting focus between musical personalities in a way that belies and undermines the tradition round-robin of solos; "Funny Shoes melds the quirky sensibility of Monk's music to user-friendly harmonies and showcases Motian's less-is-more minimalism; and "Simple Song is folksy, drawing on elements of swing, ragtime, blues and bop, cutting a broad swath through musical North Americana.
Track Listing: Ha!; As We Know It; Playing With Blocks; Two Miles a Day; Evening Kites; Bridge and Tunnel; Funny Shoes; Gray Plaid; Simple Song; Twelve Days; Savile Row.
Personnel: Jacob Sacks: piano; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Mat Maneri: viola and violin; Paul Motian: drums.