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Tyshawn Sorey      

Composer and Multi-instrumentalist

Tyshawn Sorey is a multi-instrumentalist, improviser, composer, ensemble leader, and conductor assimilating and transforming ideas from a broad spectrum of traditional and experimental genres into musical creations that celebrate alternative musical modeling and blend composition and improvisation.

A virtuosic percussionist and drum set player who is fluent in piano and trombone, Sorey is an ever-curious explorer of the nature of sound and rhythm, ensemble behavior, and the physicality of live performance. He erodes distinctions among musical genres as well as the line between composition and improvisation and incorporates sophisticated rhythmic and harmonic phrasing, highly prescribed improvisational sound worlds, and real-time experimentation with sound, among many other structural elements.

In his albums Koan (2009) and Alloy (2014), he explores various World and Eastern musical and philosophical concepts. Inner Spectrum of Variables (2015) features an extended composition in six movements that merges the harmonic and melodic vocabularies of Western classical, American, and Ethiopian creative expressions, free improvisation, and twentieth-century avant-garde musical traditions.

In his song cycle Perle Noire: Meditations for Josephine (2016), Sorey reimagines the legendary Josephine Baker's works; his original recreations of songs sung by Baker reflect both the context of her contributions to the civil rights movement and contemporary incidences of racial injustice. Sorey challenges expectations of jazz piano trio performance on Verisimilitude (2017), a set of five abstract pieces in which the delineation between spontaneous and formal composition is even more obscured.

In addition to his own work as a composer, conductor, and ensemble leader, Sorey's prowess as a percussionist and drum set player is well known, and he continues to be in high demand as a sideman for popular creative artists. With his genre-free approach to making music and continuous experimentation, Sorey is rapidly emerging as a singular talent in contemporary musical composition and performance.

His additional albums as a leader include Oblique-I (2011) and That/Not (2007), and he has appeared on numerous other recordings as a sideman or co-leader.

Sorey has presented work and given lectures at such national and international venues as Lincoln Center, the Village Vanguard, Walt Disney Hall, the Danish Rhythmic Conservatory, the Newport Jazz Festival, Ojai Music Festival, the Banff Center, Cité de la Musique, Hochshule für Musik in Cologne and Nuremberg, and at Wesleyan University, where he recently was appointed an assistant professor of music specializing in creative improvised and experimental music traditions. In 2017, he was named a MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Fellow.

Sorey received a Bachelors in Music (2004) from William Paterson University, an M.A. (2011) from Wesleyan University, and a D.M.A. (2017) from Columbia University.


Tyshawn Sorey, A Musical Shapeshifter, Wins MacArthur 'Genius ...

The wide-ranging composer, drummer, pianist and trombonist has been defying easy category since childhood. Now only 37 years old, he's just getting started.

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