The Shape-Shifting Music of Tyshawn Sorey

Alex Ross at The New Yorker:

There is something awesomely confounding about the music of Tyshawn Sorey, the thirty-eight-year-old Newark-born composer, percussionist, pianist, and trombonist. As a critic, I feel obliged to describe what I hear, and description usually begins with categorization. Sorey’s work eludes the pinging radar of genre and style. Is it jazz? New classical music? Composition? Improvisation? Tonal? Atonal? Minimal? Maximal? Each term captures a part of what Sorey does, but far from all of it. At the same time, he is not one of those crossover artists who indiscriminately mash genres together. Even as his music shifts shape, it retains an obdurate purity of voice. T. S. Eliot’s advice seems apt: “Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’ / Let us go and make our visit.”

Last month, Miller Theatre, at Columbia University, featured Sorey in its indispensable Composer Portraits series. He was joined by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ice) and the jack Quartet. After intermission, the flutist Claire Chase, a co-founder of ice, interviewed him onstage about his origins and his aims.

more here.