David Murray’s long time pianist, Lafayette Gilchrist, here gets his chance to record solo although this release is actually his second album. The opening selection For The Go Go is pure contemporary stride piano. The modern harmonies are there but the influence goes all the way back to James P Johnson, Fats Waller and company.
The CD title Dark Matter is described by Gilchrist as being an invisible force that holds the universe together. In contrast to the opening selection Child’s Play is a slow, ruminative exploration of melancholy. Maybe he was thinking of his Dark Matter when he played this one. Occasionally he breaks out of the sombre mood with rippling runs along the keyboard but mostly it is sadly nostalgic.
Then we come to the title tune. This one trips along with a simple melody decorated with dark chords. Dynamics change as the pianist gets into this piece and changes tempo, mood and volume levels. The sombre mood however transfers from the previous composition. The state of his playing brightens up perceptively towards the end here demonstrating that it is not all doom and gloom. Happy Birthday Sucker is mostly upbeat but has its ironic patches.
The Love Bind finds Gilchrist in playful mood, spinning out chirpy chords and keeping the rhythm flowing neatly. Blues For Our Marches To End explores blues territory with a dark melody and rumbling bass chords. Careful listening will reveal many layers to these original compositions played vigorously by the composer. Purchase will rest on how much you enjoy solo piano discs. It is though, a very good live session with interesting pieces and very well recorded.
For The Go Go Child’s Play; Dark Matter; The Love Bind; Spontaneous Combustion; And You Know This; Blues For Our Marches To End; Old Whale Bones; Happy Birthday Sucker; Black Flight; Greetings (49.21)
Gilchrist (p). University of Baltimore, Wright Theatre, 18 September 2016.