Continuing is drummer Tyshawn Sorey’s highly-anticipated follow-up to Mesmerism and The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism, his two critically-acclaimed 2022 release that feature this avowed avant-gardist’s surprising forays into classic, swinging jazz. Those two prior releases were voted #4 and #5 best albums of the year, respectively, in the annual Francis Davis Jazz Poll of over 150 jazz critics. In two 4 ½ Star reviews, Downbeat called Mesmerism “wonderfully simple, yet breathtakingly deep” and Off-Off Broadway (featuring saxophonist Greg Osby) “music robust enough to have you believe the energy generated by the group is its own discrete force.”
While the new release features the same musicians as on Mesmerism – Sorey on drums, pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer – the result could not be more different. While the first release is mostly comprised of neat jewel cases, Continuing is sprawling, with its four long tracks given room to breathe deeply, allowing the musicians to explore crevices and possibilities while keeping the emphasis on melody, groove, swing, and the blues. The languorous pace taken on the standard “Angel Eyes” requires a rare intensity of concentration from the trio, but they dig deeply into the feeling of all of the songs, including compositions by Wayne Shorter and Ahmad Jamal, who both coincidentally passed away recently, and Harold Mabern, a mentor to Sorey. The performances are masterful and unforced, played with an honesty and spontaneity that get at the music’s emotional core.