All Things Arise Reviews
All About Jazz
All Things Arise
Russ Lossing | Hatology (2006)
By Budd Kopman
Published: August 10, 2007
Russ Lossing is a pianist of extreme depth and intensity whose music exists between jazz improvisation and modern classicism. All Things Arise will only cement this impression. His previous records include the marvelous Metal Rat (Clean Feed, 2006) with Mat Maneri and Mark Dresser, and the intense As It Grows (HatOLOGY, 2004) with Ed Schuller and Paul Motian.
This time, however, Lossing is on solo piano, which only increases the intensity since every aspect of the sounds and emotions presented is in the soloist's hands. The piano used is very good and the recording quality impeccable, leading to a “you are there” experience. The intensity level, but not the volume, is very high, and real concentration is required of the listener.
A listener so inclined will be rewarded with playing of amazing dexterity and a feeling of total control despite the rapid-fire nature of the presentation of ideas. As pure sound, the music is quite wonderful as Lossing explores the full range of the piano while getting many textures and densities from it. He is a master of the sustain pedal and at one point, when both hands are playing a fast, tight repeated figure, holds it down to create a music wave which rises up out of the speakers and then crashes.
Lossing's playing is much more than just sound painting, however. He has a way with musical space and time that brings the listener inside the music. The space is represented both as the separation of notes in time and as the musical distance between notes, while time is deeper than mere pulse, getting closer to the relationship of the notes as they flow. Form and development, while abstract, is created by how space and time are always changing, not randomly but rather with an intent that can be intuited.
The record is broken up into two distinct parts. The first is a suite of four pieces improvised in the moment and the second is six improvisations on compositions by Duke Ellington (”Azure”), Sonny Rollins (”Pent-Up House”), Ornette Coleman (”Kathelin Grey”), Kurt Weill (”Alabama Song”) and Lossing himself (”Verse”). The distinction between totally free improvisation and improvisation that is quite free while maintaining touch with its base will be quite apparent regardless of whether or not the tunes are familiar.
Ellington's “Azure” was played twice and recorded sequentially, but split on the record to be the first and last tunes of the second part. This arrangement is quite fortuitous as they are played differently. The second version is much closer to a classic jazz improvisation, and serves to put not only the first version, but also the other tunes' treatments in perspective.
The music of All Things Arise would be an almost overwhelming experience live, and we should be thankful to be able to hear these ephemeral yet deep creations many times over.
All About Jazz NY
Russ Lossing - solo piano
All Things Arise
By Donald Elfman
Improvisation in its most open and free form expression - though tempered with a compositional sensibility - is at the center of Russ Lossing’s provocative new album All Things Arise. (Lange’s comments on the piano come from the liner notes.) It’s an album that, as the notes say, seems to have two sides - one of free improvisations and one of the pianist’s bold takes on some more familiar music. The four free pieces on “side 1” are linked in terms of space, development, intervals, etc. and Lossing gives these explorations a true sense of form. He bridges the worlds of jazz and new music, the pieces feeling as if they arise out of the primal silence of the universe.
And then we come to tunes that the jazzers know - from Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House” and Ellington’s “Azure” to Ornette’s “Kathelin Grey” and Kurt Weill’s “Alabama Song” - but even these ‘standards’ feel as if they’re emerging newly formed from a magnificent world of thought and impulse. What’s also bridged here are modes of expression - private and intimate to outgoing and audience- involving. Especially instructive are the two takes of the Ellington tune - the first is simple and almost still and the second takes on more of a pulse but still manages to feel reflective and almost motionless.
All About Jazz
All Things Arise
Russ Lossing | Hatology
By Jeff Dayton-Johnson
Stuart Broomer’s ponderous liner notes to Russ Lossing’s latest release correctly point out that the track sequencing suggests a “side one” and “side two,” as would an old vinyl album (“the LP of tradition,” as Broomer says). The first side is given over to a suite of freely improvised music with echoes (probably unwitting) of various moments in 20th Century classical piano. Side two replaces these with more deliberate jazz echoes as Lossing takes on an idiosyncratic set of standards and near-standards.
Lossing has a long list of credits, including most recently the acclaimed trio date As It Grows (Hat Hut, 2004) with Ed Schuller and Paul Motian, but All Things Arise is his first solo piano recording. Judging from the two opening segments of the side one suite, it sounds like he’s been holding himself back up until now: in an unflagging avalanche of ideas, uncompromisingly avoiding rote or formulaic elements, “All Things Arise” and “Interdependence” penalize attention deficit on the part of listeners. Having gotten that out of his system, the latter two movements are gentler (but no less demanding of the listener’s attention).
Side two, though ostensibly familiar ground for jazz fans, is only marginally less rigorous. Contrast Lossing's approach to standards with Marilyn Crispell's, for example. In her renditions of “Ruby, My Dear” and “When I Fall In Love” on her excellent Live in San Francisco (Music & Arts, 1990), the familiar themes only begin to crystallize out of the musical shards at the end of the performances, rather like an echo played backwards. Lossing instead seems to interleave elements of the compositions throughout his performance of what are essentially his own improvised musical structures.
Lossing’s own brief notes on his treatment of the tunes are helpful, if enigmatic. For example, he tells us that he “improvised the harmony” of Ornette Coleman’s “Kathelin Grey,” thereby removing, for me, the original’s sweetness. But that's okay, given that he injects a certain sweetness into Kurt Weill’s “Alabama Song,” which is “really a blues of sorts,” after all.
Like Assif Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani's Solitude (Hopscotch, 2006), another recent uncompromising work of free improvisation, All Things Arise ends with a Duke Ellington masterpiece. In fact there are two readings of Ellington’s “Azure,” providing the most recognizable moments on the record. One can distinguish not only the lovely melody, but also the interspersed anarchic arpeggios that recall Art Tatum’s mid-1950s solo recordings.
Paradoxically, even as Lossing's maelstrom of beautifully played notes is energizing, it can also be tiring. But let's be clear: it is never tiresome.
CD Reviews: Russ Lossing “All Things Arise” CD-2006 hatOLOGY Records
Posted :Friday, June 09, 2006
By Glenn Astarita
New York City-based pianist Ross Lossing’s previous trio effort for this Swiss record label, features flotation-like attributes, partly due to drummer Paul Motian’s distinctive strokes and accents. Nonetheless, Lossing is a thinking man’s pianist. With this newly issued solo effort, the artist segments tracks into an improvised suite, followed by renditions of jazz standards and one original work.
On the initial four pieces titled “Suite: All Things Arise,” Lossing presents a diversified series of motifs, built on contrapuntal chord clusters, fractured stride piano passages and trance-like themes. His multidimensional thought processes are put to good use here, to coincide with minimalist avant-classical segments and muscular block chord based phrasings. Lossing is an inventor of off-kilter stylizations, often stitched together into loosely realized conceptions that sustain gobs of interest. Then on the more structured works such as Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House,” Lossing executes free-bop statements with lucidly enacted panoramas. And with his composition “Verse,” he commingles swarming clusters with contrasting elements of beauty and discontent. No doubt, Lossing presents an engaging arc of ideas throughout these investigative endeavors. There’s a lot going on under the hood, so to speak.
Russ Lossing: piano