Jeff Kaiser & Ernesto Diaz-Infante
Pith Balls and Inclined Planes
Solus is a disc of solo piano improvisations by Ernesto Diaz-Infante, a Californian multi-instrumentalist. Each track is a short, focused burst of creative energy. These pieces are much more calculated sounding than anything close to free-jazz piano. Diaz-Infante stays for the most part far away from anything resembling a melody, but never engages in gut-busting histrionics. His use of space seems deliberate and pointed, with occasional patches of silence looming heavy against the dense clusters of notes.
Solus is much different than the ethereality of last year’s Ucross Journal; it has an authority that the prior lacked. Diaz-Infante isn’t afraid to interrupt a flowing melodic passage with a quick flurry of notes. Acoustic guitar vs. trumpet, flugelhorn and electronics. This improvisational confrontation could have gone a number of ways. It could have capitalized on the almost inherent melodicism of the brass and guitar, with the two making sweet, sticky love across the stereo field. Maybe it could have been a fiery duel of strings and breath; barbed wire against a hurricane, with my ears as the casualty. Thankfully, it’s neither. Neither musician is afraid of melody, but they’re never tied to it. “Outside, Three Tennis Courts” has Jeff Kaiser playing a short melodic fragment that sits upright against a barrage of Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s string maelstrom. “She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts” sees Kaiser electronically treating Diaz-Infante’s guitar and introducing hazy synth textures. “Once (And it Was Not Yesterday)” takes samples of Solus and turns them into an electroacoustic maelstrom. The interplay between the two is always interesting; there are constant associations to be made with every listen. Each tracks sounds like an exploration of possibility, scanning and hurtling through barrels of ideas. Creative music, fully realized.