Philip Freeman, Downbeat
Weighting, pianist Gabriel Zucker’s debut album, is inspired by Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, a 2013 novel set in the ’70s that shifts between the New York art world and the convulsive, revolutionary Italian political environment of the era.
The album’s eight tracks are combined into three suites, each surging and receding, slamming and roaring before descending into a keening wail from the horns or a solo piano passage. The influence of Kushner’s novel seems to manifest primarily in track titles, but there are times when the music recalls the ’70s loft-jazz scene. At others, the music’s thoroughly modern. On “The Stream of New York/ And Art, Of Course”, Zucker’s piano playing – atop a tricky, shifting groove courtesy of drummer Tyshawn Sorey – fits comfortably alongside the work of 21st-century groups like Dawn Of Midi or GoGo Penguin. Meanwhile, on “Missing Our Appointments With Each Other”, the subtle treatment of the horns (and the players’ deployment of extended techniques) makes for a mesmerizing, ritualistic atmosphere. This is an album that refuses to distinguish between old and new, structure and freedom.