The Composer Tyshawn Sorey Enters a New Phase

Source: The New York Times.

Sorey is one reason the worlds of jazz and classical music — of music that’s improvised and music that’s notated — seem less and less separate today. He’s far from the first jazz musician to compose for the classical concert hall: In the 1950s, there were “Third Stream” composers (Gunther Schuller, Jimmy Giuffre, John Lewis) who wrote for ensembles of classically trained musicians and jazz improvisers. But Sorey is neither “combining” genres nor “crossing over” from one into another. He does not so much bridge genre divides as cast them aside, as if they were a vestige of a prehistoric era, before artists as versatile as himself walked the earth. He can memorize and perform a complex score after glancing at it for 30 seconds, but he has no interest in reproducing sheet music note for note — including his own compositions, on which he expects musicians to improvise. “Playing with Tyshawn is like being onstage with the ocean,” the flutist Claire Chase told me. “You’re there with the ocean, and it’s serene and also dangerous and terrifying.”