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Micah Thomas - Tide (self-released)

15 June 2020

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Juilliard-trained Micah Thomas has a few years of prestigious sideperson and one-off gigs behind him with luminaries Joshua Redman, Lage Lund, and Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The pianist brings it all to bear on his debut piano trio LP Tide. Recorded live at the Kitano Hotel in his adopted home of New York, the record turns Thomas loose on a program of originals that lets him stretch his wings while staying true to jazz tradition. Accompanied by bassist Dean Torrey and drummer Kyle Benford, Thomas rides out on the attack with the justly titled “Tornado,” a flurry of notes that rattles the bones without collapsing into chaos. One suspects a familiarity with the work boundary-pushing ivory ticklers like Andrew Hill, Don Pullen and Geri Allen, not to mention their mentor Thelonious Monk.

Gracefully dancing around out-and-out cacophony, the trio keeps the furious energy roiling on the hyperactive “Grounds” and the fiery title track. But Thomas shows he’s an equally accomplished balladeer with “Across My Path” and the solo “Vänta,” letting melody dictate his actions. “The Day After” showcases the rhythm section, with Torrey taking the lead on arco and Benford closing it out with a drum solo. The band really hits its stride on “The Game,” an exciting, ambitious, epic-length composition that moves almost breezily through several modes, weaving together bits of hard bop, free jazz, classical and the blues so seamlessly there are no stitches to be seen anywhere. Thomas ends the record with “Wanderer,” which tempers its energy with a casual swing that takes the audience – and the listener – out on a warm, relaxed note. Tide heralds the arrival of a blazing young talent ripe for discovery.