Album Title: Incandescence
Performer: Bill Stewart
Label and #: Pirouet Records
Play Time:
Recorded: 2008

A thoughtful drummer who works a thought-provoking extremely conversational style, Bill Stewart has recorded four albums as a leader, each one more forward-thinking than the last. But Stewart is clearly a drummer of great action as well. His intense drumming emits a clear-as-a-bell, sharp-as-cut-glass logic expressed through stunning full-set phrases that charge fully borne from his elegant time keeping.

Working here with two of his favorite musical compatriots -- organist Larry Goldings and pianist Kevin Hays -- Stewart the composer comes to the fore. Where his earlier albums smacked of the bop terrain typically mapped by labels and musicians of the late 90s, Incandescence is an intensely personal, introspective recording that seems inspired by Monk and Paul Bley. Beyond that, it's pure Bill Stewart.

The compositions have a mysterious quality which provides perfect counterpoint to the drummer's shimmering drum declarations. A simple eerie piano line meanders
through "Portals Opening" over which Stewart builds a solo of jagged rhythmic edges, delicate cymbal glances, abrupt snare rolls (à la Tony Williams) and calculated accents. Stewart often plays agitated full-set rolls that fly over the bar line, adding a feeling of tumult and friction to his already unsettling compositions. And of course, Stewart swings his butt off as in the gleefully upbeat "Opening Portals". Goldings and Hays perform the playful unison melody of "Tell A Televangelist" while Stewart drops mocking bombs below. Stewart further shape-shifts sounds in "Metallurgy" where gaseous, spewing, popping cymbal effects create a virtual iron-ore smelting furnace.