Kris Davis – Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic)

At a glance, an odd candidate for consensus: Kris Davis, an improviser-composer with the instinct of an alchemist, made Diatom Ribbons by drawing inspiration from oceanic microbiology, tectonic movement and piano precursors ranging from Messiaen to Monk to Cecil Taylor. What makes her experiment feel seamless is the deep cohesion of some elite company: a core trio with Val Jeanty on turntables and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, opening up to the earthy enlightenment of a pair of hardy tenor saxophonists (Tony Malaby, JD Allen) a couple of spark plug guitarists (Marc Ribot, Nels Cline), and a handful of others (like Esperanza Spalding, in two arresting vocal cameos). It easily could have felt like an Event album, but Davis and her wrecking crew produce something rarer: an album of volatile heat and fractured funk that mysteriously forms an alluring contour line. – Nate Chinen

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