Our first release of 2022 has arrived, Miles Okazaki’s Thisness. The third studio recording of Miles’ quartet, featuring Matt Mitchell on piano and keyboards, Anthony Tidd on electric bass and Sean Rickman on drums, is comprised of a four piece suite, whose title originated with a Sun Ra recording.
Thisness captures the next chapter in the evolution of the Trickster sound. For Thisness, rather than a fixed book of compositions, the music is comprised of various themes that the group weaves in and out of, connected by hubs that Okazaki describes as “traffic circles, or bus stations.” Through hidden musical cues, the leader signals when the music is approaching the transition point and which path to take to exit. As Okazaki described it: “I had detailed blueprints, but at some point, surrendered to the dream logic of the collective. The intention was to make something like an exquisite corpse, the collective improvisations developed by the Surrealists. For this album my job as composer was to bring in some ideas, set them in motion and then listen, trying to recognize the value of serendipitous events at transitional points in the music and lead the band down whatever path may be opening.” The wonder lies in the journey, with beautiful new vistas opening with each turn in the road.
2021 has seen a return to normal of sorts for Pi Recordings. It was also our 20th anniversary, and while the events that we had in the works to celebrate never came to fruition because of the pandemic, the occasion was still an opportunity for us to reflect on our two-decade long journey. Started by Seth Rosner with no grand plan other than to release two volumes of music by Henry Threadgill, we have somehow become one of the more highly-regarded record labels in-and-around jazz despite never releasing more than six albums in any year. For us, it’s all about finding original, uncompromising music full of risk-taking and rigorous thinking and execution. We have also always taken inspiration from our North Star Muhal Richard Abrams and his words at the inaugural meeting of the AACM: “First of all, number one, there’s original music, only.” But really what the label represents is a distillation of our ever-evolving taste in music, which has helped keep the catalogue from getting stagnant. In a sense, the label is one very long journey that we have had the privilege to take with all of you.
We wish everyone health and safety in these difficult and turbulent times and look forward to the day that we can all come together once again in the presence of live music.
Seth and Yulun