Canadian born, Brooklyn-based pianist Kris Davis made inroads into the public consciousness with a pair of albums on Fresh Sound-New Talent with her quartet of saxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Jeff Davis. The four have been exploring her compositions for three albums now (the first release was actually by a quintet with trumpeter Russ Johnson) and have developed into a group that can maneuver through all of their little “minefields” that can trip up even an accomplished improviser. The pieces on Rye Eclipse are open enough to show the players’ individuality yet are also compositions where all four players are breathing as one. The title track is a good case in point. It alternates pounding, dense, skronking passages with those of uneasy, spectral harmonics-filled calm. “Prarie Eyes” revolves around repetitive piano patterns over which Malaby frosts the melody and bass and drums offer commentary. The opening passages of “Empty Beehive” hover effectively in near silence before building up to its climactic apex. “Minnow Bucket” is a brief track with Malaby and Davis alternating parts of the theme before settling into a staggered rhythmic lurch until its conclusion, a musical question mark. Davis’ compositions are unusual and effective with something unique to offer. This is a true quartet and no one musician stands out—Malaby’s burly tenor is as much a part of the group fabric as a solo voice, Davis’ piano is full of fleeting melodic lines, harmonically rich chords and abrupt bashing jabs and the rhythm section functions as a cohesive unit. All of this makes Davis’ group into one of the more exciting propositions in today’s jazz fabric.

Robert Iannapollo