Kris Davis/Craig Taborn, Octopus(Pyroclastic)
Two-piano albums are relatively rare in jazz (or any other music), but often interesting. Cecil Taylor made one with Mary Lou Williams that’s like two rams charging at each other headfirst. This record, featuring Kris Davis and Craig Taborn, is significantly less combative. In 2016, Davis made Duopoly, a collection of duets with Tim Berne, Don Byron, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Billy Drummond, Marcus Gilmore, Angelica Sanchez, and Taborn. Once it was out, Davis and Taborn toured together, and recorded the gigs. “Ossining,” named for a town in upstate New York, is a Davis composition. She’s using a prepared piano that sounds weirdly muted, with almost no reverb to it at all. Her notes sound like someone tapping a metal rod on a granite countertop, and she sticks to an almost maddeningly steady rhythm, ticking like a machine. Taborn plays little burbling figures that match her mechanical/twitchy energy, but with a fuller piano sound. The effect is like watching a robot dance while listening to a gentle autumn rain hit the window.