Rising Chicago pianist Matt Piet finds his way with well-seasoned players on two stellar recordings | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Rising Chicago pianist Matt Piet finds his way with well-seasoned players on two stellar recordings


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Since I first discovered the music of Matt Piet in the fall of 2016, the profile of the Chicago pianist has risen around town. Piet plays with the group of musicians associated with the Amalgam Music imprint, including drummer Bill Harris (the label’s owner) and saxophonist Jake Wark in Four Letter Words, and leads his own trio with bassist Charlie Kirchen and drummer Julian Kirshner. More recently, he’s also started working with a number of veteren players, and tonight he celebrates new recordings from two of these groups, both of which find him with one foot in 60s free jazz and the other in the present. Rummage Out (Clean Feed) is by the Disorganization, the pianist’s quartet with alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, cornetist Josh Berman, and drummer Tim Daisy. The two extended pieces on the recording reveal a composition-minded flow with shifting points of reference; “Lost and Found” opens with traces of the keening spirituality found in the mid-60s work of John Coltrane before flipping to the tap-dance percussiveness of early Cecil Taylor in a wonderful duo passage between Piet and Daisy. Piet’s cohorts have a long history together, but he seems to be a natural fit as he helps push the group’s improvisations from one episode to the next with both voluble and sparse keyboard transitions. The second new release, Throw Tomatoes (Astral Spirits), is by Piet’s trio with Daisy and saxophonist Dave Rempis. I caught an early performance of the group where Piet regrettably tried to match the power of the reedist, and the performance fell flat, but their album indicates that he’s found a convincing rapport in this ensemble too. The music is more fiery and open-ended than his work with the Disorganization, but for each spell of raging intensity there’s a delicate, introspective response. Both releases show that Piet has already delivered serious dividends on his promise as a musician.   v

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