An identical paradox animates “Two Centuries,” an excellent album that the composer Qasim Naqvi dropped again within the summertime, however whose spaciousness and equanimity feels most worthy of our consideration proper now. It’s the primary collaboration between Naqvi and two of his mentors, percussionist Andrew Cyrille and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, veteran jazz heroes each.
Naqvi studied with Cyrille on the New College within the mid-’90s and with Smith at CalArts in 2006 — the album title is a nod to the centurial hump between enrollments. After his classes with Smith, Naqvi was finest generally known as the drummer from Daybreak of Midi, a mesmerizing trio that approached polyrhythm with an exciting, nearly scientific tenacity. However on this three-piece, Naqvi performs modular and Minimoog synthesizers, machines he constantly makes use of to spill wealthy melodies into skinny puddles.
Cyrille is keen to splash round in them, following his scholar’s timbral cues and making his drum package flicker with out ever pushing the clock. This means — to cease time somewhat than hold it — has all the time felt like the good achievement of Cyrille’s drumming, and you may catch it most viscerally in “The Curve” as he brushes his snare throughout a last crescendo that evaporates into itself.
As for Smith, his mastery of unfavorable area is in full impact. He makes his horn converse in fantastically smeared notes, then stands again, as if to ponder the musical shapes he simply left hanging within the air. On “For D.F.,” the album’s first and most elegant reduce, his phrases take form like awakening ideas, whereas Naqvi’s synth drones coalesce into an intertwined gesture of assist and respect.
“What I like about improvised music is that an artist is allowed to age with grace on their instrument,” Naqvi says within the album’s liner notes. “Their language evolves and distills over time into this important sound. Andrew and Wadada have lived such lengthy and inventive lives and I needed this album to embrace the place they’re at now.”
There’s an apparent poetry in that intention. Naqvi’s octogenarian mentors have traveled so mindfully by means of their years, they appear to have realized how you can liberate their music from time itself. However nothing ever actually stays put. Time retains transferring, and so do they — and in the event you take heed to “Two Centuries” together with your quietest thoughts, assorted illusions of stillness may flash throughout your consciousness, slideshow-style: a glassy pond. A snowy bluff. A dumpster stuffed with unknowable decomposition. Electrical energy flowing by means of a wire. Blood flowing by means of a limb. Neurons firing. Recollections forming. Human life silently listening to its personal hum.