Published Oct 04, 2019This new collection of works for piano and vibraphone from young New York City composer Michael Vincent Waller is absolutely sparkling. The performances by pianist R. Andrew Lee and vibraphonist William Winant treat the material with precisely the delicate touch it deserves.
Having received private lessons from the great La Monte Young, Waller's style combines modernist tendencies with a healthy regard for romantic composition. It infuses his work with a genuine accessibility, even as he explores minimalist and other avant-garde themes.
A pair of four-part compositions illustrate this careful balance perfectly. "Return from L.A." is achingly beautiful; it's not difficult to imagine the piece's second part accompanying the end credits of a big-budget Hollywood production. (That's a compliment.) By the time we get to part four however, the mood has darkened and tension is palpable. Waller's ability to shift focus so effectively within a seven-minute composition is the stuff of which great composers are made.
"Love" is similarly absorbing and we're treated to an elegant Winant performance. Given its title, you'd expect another romantic effort; in fact, it delivers some of the album's most cerebral moments.
But no matter where it falls on the classical-modern spectrum, Waller's work is intensely evocative. The three-plus-minutes of "For Pauline" are a tribute to avant-garde giant Pauline Oliveros, who pioneered the concept of "deep listening." The connection between her legacy and Waller's vision is obvious. (Unseen Worlds)