Tyshawn Sorey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tyshawn Sorey
Background information
Born (1980-07-08) July 8, 1980 (age 40)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Genresavant-garde music, jazz, classical, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s)composer, musician
Instrumentspercussion, drum set, piano, trombone
Years active2000–present
LabelsPi, Firehouse 12, 482 Music
Associated actsVijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis, Claire Chase, Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford

Tyshawn Sorey (born July 8, 1980) is a MacArthur Genius Award-winning American composer and multi-instrumentalist. His life and work have been the subject of features in The New York Times,[1][2] The New Yorker,[3][4] NPR,[5] The Wall Street Journal,[6] The Brooklyn Rail,[7] and more.

Early life and career[edit]

Sorey grew up in Newark, New Jersey and attended Newark Arts High School.[8]

In 2004, Sorey completed a B.Music in jazz studies and performance at William Paterson University,[9] where he began as a classical trombone major before transferring to jazz drumming.[2]

After a number of years recording and performing as a sideperson for artists including Vijay Iyer and Steve Lehman, Sorey's first album as leader was released on Firehouse 12 Records in 2007. The 2-CD That/Not features various configurations of Sorey, trombonist Ben Gerstein, pianist Cory Smythe, and bassist Thomas Morgan performing a wide range of works, from "Seven Pieces for Trombone Quartet" to the forty-three minute "Permutations for Solo Piano."[10] Sorey primarily plays drums, but also makes appearances on piano, including on the album's opening track. The material recorded for the record exceeded even the constraints of a two-disc set: a subsequent digital release of That/Not includes five additional pieces from the same sessions, including two "4 Hands" piano tracks.[11]

Sorey released his second album, Koan, in June 2009.[12] Featuring Todd Neufeld (on electric and acoustic guitar) and Thomas Morgan (on bass and acoustic guitar), the 482 Music release was reviewed favorably by All About Jazz[13] and the BBC,[14] included in the 2009 Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll,[15] and praised in NPR's "Take Five's Top 10 Jazz Records Of 2009".[16]

In the fall of 2009, Sorey enrolled in a master’s program at Wesleyan University to study composition with Anthony Braxton.[17] He completed his M.A. in the spring of 2011[18] before beginning a doctoral program at Columbia University in the fall. His enrollment at Columbia coincided with the release of his highly-lauded Oblique – I.[19]

During the six years of doctoral study that followed, Sorey worked closely with George Lewis and Fred Lerdahl;[20] off-campus, he recorded three albums with pianist Cory Smythe and bassist Chris Tordini. The first of these, Alloy, was released on Pi Recordings in 2014.[21] For The Inner Spectrum of Variables, the trio was joined by three string performers: violinist Fung Chern Hwei, violist Kyle Armbrust, and cellist Rubin Kodheli. Widely lauded, the Chicago Reader called The Inner Spectrum of Variables "one of the year's most arresting and ambitious recordings",[22] and The Nation included the album in their "Ten Best Albums of 2016";[23] Nextbop's Rob Shepherd named it the best jazz album of the decade.[24] The following year, Sorey returned to the trio format for Verisimilitude, which was listed third in the 2017 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll.[25]

In 2017, Sorey also completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in composition at Columbia.[26] His dissertation comprises scores for his song cycle Perle Noire: Meditations for Josephine and an essay on the aesthetic practices and critical reception of the composition, its subject Josephine Baker, and the composer himself. Sorey cited Julia Bullock and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble as integral to his endeaver to "challenge the improvisation/composition binary and celebrate collaborative modeling";[27] in 2019, these artists joined Sorey in performing the piece on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[28]

After receiving his DMA, Sorey began his appointment as Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University,[29] where he established the university's Ensemble for New Music and taught courses on composition and improvised music. In the fall of 2017, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his work in music performance and composition.[30]

In 2018, Sorey released Pillars on Firehouse 12.[31] The following year he was named Composer in Residence for the Seattle Symphony[32] and Opera Philadelphia,[33] and his duo album with Marilyn Crispell, The Adornment of Time, was released on Pi Recordings.[34]

In March 2020, just before the pandemic hit the Northeastern United States in full force, Sorey self-released his sextet's Unfiltered.[35] That fall, he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania as Presidential Assistant Professor of Music.[36]

Sorey has recorded or performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Coleman, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Steve Lehman, Joey Baron, Muhal Richard Abrams, Pete Robbins, Cory Smythe, Kris Davis, Vijay Iyer, Myra Melford, Dave Douglas, Butch Morris, and Sylvie Courvoisier.

Awards and honors[edit]


As leader/composer[edit]

Release year Title Label Personnel
2007 That/Not Firehouse 12 Sorey (drums, piano), Ben Gerstein (trombone), Cory Smythe (piano, Wurlitzer), Thomas Morgan (bass)
2009 Koan 482 Music Sorey (drums and cymbals), Todd Neufeld (electric and acoustic guitar), Thomas Morgan (bass, acoustic guitar)
2011 Oblique – I Pi Sorey (drums, percussion), Loren Stillman (saxophone), John Escreet (piano), Todd Neufeld (guitar), Chris Tordini (bass)
2014 Alloy Pi Sorey (drums, percussion), Cory Smythe (piano), Chris Tordini (bass)
2016 The Inner Spectrum of Variables Pi Sorey (drumset), Cory Smythe (piano), Chris Tordini (contrabass), Fung Chern Hwei (violin), Kyle Armbrust (viola), Rubin Kodheli (cello)
2017 Verisimilitude Pi Sorey (drums, percussion), Cory Smythe (piano, toy piano, electronics), Chris Tordini (bass)
2018 Pillars Firehouse 12 Sorey (conductor, drum set, dungchen, percussion, trombone), Stephen Haynes (trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, alto horn, small percussion), Ben Gerstein (trombone, melodica), Todd Neufeld (electric and acoustic guitar), Joe Morris (electric guitar, double bass), Carl Testa (double bass, electronics), Mark Helias (double bass ), Zach Rowden (double bass)
2020 Unfiltered self-released Sorey (drums), Nathan Reising (alto saxophone), Morgan Guerin (tenor saxophone), Lex Korten (piano), Sasha Berliner (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass)

As co-leader/composer[edit]

Release year Artist Title Label Personnel
2008 Fieldwork Door Pi Vijay Iyer (piano), Steve Lehman (saxophone), Sorey (drums)
2009 Paradoxical Frog Paradoxical Frog Clean Feed Kris Davis (piano), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone), Sorey (drums)
2012 Paradoxical Frog Union Clean Feed Kris Davis (piano), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone), Sorey (drums)
2019 Tyshawn Sorey & Marilyn Crispell The Adornment of Time Pi Sorey (drums, percussion), Marilyn Crispell (piano)
2020 Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey Invisible Ritual[44] New Focus Jennifer Curtis (violin), Sorey (piano, percussion)

As sideman and/or composer[edit]

With Samuel Blaser
  • Pieces of Old Sky (2009)
With David Binney
  • Lifted Land (2013)
With Anthony Braxton
  • Trillium E (2011)
With Steve Coleman
  • Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (2010)
  • The Mancy of Sound (2011)
With Armen Donelian
  • Leapfrog (2011)
With Alexandra Grimal
  • Andromeda (2012)
With Henry Grimes, Roberto Pettinato and Dave Burrell
  • Purity (2012)
With Vijay Iyer
With Max Johnson
  • Quartet (2012)
With Lauer Large
  • Konstanz Suite (2009)
With Ingrid Laubrock
With Steve Lehman
  • Demian as Posthuman (2005)
  • On Meaning (2007)
  • Travail, Transformation and Flow (2009)
  • Mise en Abîme (2014)
With Roscoe Mitchell
With Pascal Niggenkemper
  • Pasàpas (2008)
  • Urban Creatures (2010)
With Timuçin Şahin
  • Bafa (2009)
  • Inherence (2013)
With Samo Salamon
  • Kei's Secret (2006)
With Som Sum Sam
  • Beauty Under Construction (2005)
With Angelica Sanchez Trio
  • Float the Edge (Clean Feed, 2017)

With Craig Taborn

With John Zorn
  • In the Hall of Mirrors (Tzadik, 2014)
  • Valentine's Day (Tzadik, 2014)
  • Hen to Pan (Tzadik, 2015)


  1. ^ Shatz, Adam (7 January 2021). "The Composer Tyshawn Sorey Enters a New Phase". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b Russonello, Giovanni (2 August 2017). "Is It Jazz? Improvisation? Tyshawn Sorey Is Obliterating the Lines". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Tyshawn Sorey Defeats Preconceptions". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  4. ^ Ross, Alex (April 15, 2019). "The Shape-Shifting Music of Tyshawn Sorey".
  5. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (11 October 2017). "Tyshawn Sorey, A Musical Shapeshifter, Wins MacArthur 'Genius' Prize". NPR. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  6. ^ Blumenfeld, Larry (15 October 2011). "A Thinking Man's Drummer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  7. ^ Grella, George (October 2018). "Do Not Seek For Things Outside Yourself: The Compositional Journey of Tyshawn Sorey". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  8. ^ Atmonavage, Joe (16 January 2019). "Everyone knew this Newark native was special. Now he's officially a genius". NJ.com. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Tyshawn Sorey '04". William Paterson University. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  10. ^ Turner, Mark F. (13 November 2007). "Tyshawn Sorey: That/Not". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  11. ^ "that / not". Bandcamp. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  12. ^ Hunter, Trevor (2 February 2010). "Sounds Heard: Tyshawn Sorey - Koan". New Music USA. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  13. ^ Corroto, Mark (22 September 2009). "Tyshawn Sorey: Koan". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  14. ^ Le Gendre, Kevin (2010). "Tyshawn Sorey Koan Review". BBC. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  15. ^ "2009 Voice Jazz Critics' Poll: The Results". The Village Voice. 29 December 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Take Five's Top 10 Jazz Records Of 2009". NPR. 6 December 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  17. ^ Drake, Olivia (6 August 2009). "Braxton to Teach Drummer/Composer Tyshawn Sorey". News @ Wesleyan. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  18. ^ "M.A. Theses in Ethnomusicology and Composition". Wesleyan University. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  19. ^ Whitehead, Kevin (11 October 2011). "Tyshawn Sorey: Making 'Oblique' Patterns Move". NPR. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  20. ^ Shapiro, Gary (8 May 2017). "Music Graduate Improvises His Way to a Doctorate". Columbia News.
  21. ^ Chinen, Nate (24 October 2014). "Drummers' Choices: Setting the Beat, Calling the Tune". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  22. ^ Margasak, Peter (1 July 2016). "Tyshawn Sorey achieves the sublime on the new album The Inner Spectrum of Variables". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  23. ^ Hajdu, David (14 December 2016). "The Ten Best Albums of 2016". The Nation. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  24. ^ Shepherd, Rob (24 December 2019). "Rob Shepherd's Favorite Jazz Albums of the Decade". Nextbop. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  25. ^ "The 2017 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll". NPR. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Tyshawn Sorey, Alumni". The Department of Music, Columbia University. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  27. ^ Sorey, Tyshawn (9 September 2017). Dissertation: Perle Noire: Meditations for Josephine - Aesthetics, Discussion, and Reception. Columbia Academic Commons. p. 17. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  28. ^ da Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna (17 January 2019). "Review: A Haunting Tribute to Josephine Baker Arrives at the Met Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  29. ^ Rubenstein, Lauren (11 October 2017). "Assistant Professor of Music Sorey MA '11 Wins MacArthur "Genius" Award". News @ Wesleyan. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Tyshawn Sorey, Composer and Musician, Class of 2017". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  31. ^ Shteamer, Hank (12 October 2018). "Review: Tyshawn Sorey Forges an Immersive Soundworld on the Category-Defying 'Pillars'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Program Notes: Sorey and Beethoven". Seattle Symphony. 17 November 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  33. ^ a b "Multi-instrumentalist and composer Tyshawn Sorey named Opera Philadelphia's new Composer in Residence". Opera Philadelphia. 21 November 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  34. ^ Walls, Seth Colter (2 October 2019). "Tyshawn Sorey / Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  35. ^ Kaufman, Dave (22 April 2020). "Unfiltered: The Tyshawn Sorey Sextet At The Jazz Gallery". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  36. ^ "Sorey Named Presidential Assistant Professor of Music". The University of Pennsylvania Arts & Sciences. 19 August 2020. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  37. ^ "Tyshawn Sorey". Roulette. 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  38. ^ "Other Minds Festival 17". Other Minds. 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  39. ^ "Tyshawn Sorey er ny Artist In Residence". JazzDanmark. 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  40. ^ "the shifting foundation: artists". The Shifting Foundation. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  41. ^ "The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announces the second class of Doris Duke Impact Award recipients" (PDF). The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  42. ^ "[RESIDENCY] Tyshawn Sorey's KOAN II". Roulette. 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  43. ^ "Tyshawn Sorey". United States Artists. 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  44. ^ Cook, Amanda (15 December 2020). "Editor's Picks: 2020 Contemporary Classical Albums". I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. Retrieved 11 January 2021.

External links[edit]