Upon graduating from Ohio State University in 1986, pianist and composer Russ Lossing moved to New York City. Over the decades, he has played and recorded with drummer Paul Motian, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, saxophonists Loren Stillman and John O'Gallagher plus many others. As a leader, he has recorded for HATOLOGY, Clean Feed, Fresh Sound, and Sunnyside Records. His music, while influenced by Thelonious Monk, Andrew Hill, and the afore-mentioned Motian, is wide open, leaving plenty of room for his collaborators to speak their own piece.
"Metamorphism" (Sunnyside Records), though recorded in 2017, sounds fresh and timeless. Joined by Stillman (alto and soprano saxophones), John Hébert (bass), and Michael Sarin (drums) –– all long-time associates –– most of Lossing's eight original pieces flow with serenity from one to another. Yet, there is intensity in how the musicians move towards and away from each other, how the solos rise up and make the listener aware that the music is not about technique but has emotional depth. The program opens with a percussive piano figure leading the rhythm section in with each musician playing elements of the melody. When the alto sax and piano play the main theme, one hears a Middle Eastern-influenced melody. Notice how the rhythm section stops and starts, how they create a dialogue with the piano and sax, especially during the solos.
|Photo: Clara Pereira
|Photo: Chris Drukker
"Metamorphism" is an adventurous collection of pieces that never boils over nor lapses into cliches. The listener can hear how comfortable the musicians are with each other, allowing themselves to be continually challenged by the compositions of Russ Lossing. There's little clutter in the sound, the articulated piano notes stand out as do all the "voices" of the quartet. This album deserves to be listened all the way through each time to appreciate the beauty and the humanity the music contains.
For more information, go to www.russlossing.com. To purchase the album, go to https://russlossing.bandcamp.com/album/metamorphism.Here's the title track:
|Photo: Thibault Della Gaspera