On “Gravity,” Kassa Overall and pianist Emanuel Ruffler team up for an intriguing album.
Painting, ‘Gravity’ (Rufftone)
Seattle jazz lovers who have been following the high-school scene will remember Kassa Overall, drummer with the Garfield band a decade-and-a-half back. After graduating from Oberlin Conservatory in 2006, Overall moved to New York, where he became pianist Geri Allen’s drummer of choice and also a respected producer on the hip-hop scene.
On “Gravity,” Overall and pianist Emanuel Ruffler (Brazilian Girls, Meshell Ndegeocello) team up for an intriguing EP of minimalist abstractions that, true to the duo’s name, Painting, are nicely appreciated as aural visualizations. Electronic-music buffs will be reminded of a DJ mix, but this was all recorded live.
As Ruffler plinks random notes, broken chords or explosive dissonances, often with lots of space in between, Overall moves from ticking pulses to atmospheric cymbal massages.
It’s not music with an obvious narrative, but more of a dramatic spatial experience — as suggested by the title of the first track, “Gravity Pushes Me Down While Bubbles Rise to the Top,” with “gravity” perhaps referring to Overall’s earthy beats, and “bubbles,” Ruffler’s carbonated piano. Most of the EP is fairly restrained, but “Radioactive Fallout” builds to a thunderous climax.
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Paul de Barros, Seattle Times jazz critic
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Note: The Weeknd performs at Bumbershoot Saturday, Sept. 5.