Reviews that mention Matthew Shipp

March 2, 2016

Matthew Shipp Trio

The Conduct of Jazz
Thirsty Ear THI 57211

Michael Bisio

Accortet

Relative Pitch RPR 1040

Straightforward in his improvising and composing, it’s fairly easy to understand how Michael Bisio has become bassist of choice for many of Jazz’s most exploratory players. He has had a long-time relationship with pianist Matthew Shipp as well as being part of straightforward ensembles with the likes of saxophonist Louie Belogenis and saxophonist/trumpeter Joe McPhee.

Although straightforward is straight as in a straight line, straightforward isn’t straight as in straight-ahead. For instance on the disc as part of Shipp’s trio with drummer Newman Taylor Baker; and with his newly constituted Accortet, featuring cornetist Kirk Knuffke, drummer Michael Wimberly and accordionist Art Bailey, Bisio’s creativity allows for angling unexpected strategies within these performances. But like a competitive long-distance swimmer who makes sure a guiding boat is always nearby, he ensures that tunes maintain a determined form and never drift off into cacophony. MORE

October 6, 2015

Matthew Shipp/Mat Walerian Duo

The Uppercut- Live at Okuden
ESP-Disk 5007

François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur

Unknowable

NotTwo MW 928-2

Ocean Fanfare

Imagine Sounds Imagine Silences

Barefoot Records BFREC O40

Marco Eneidi Steamin’ 4

Panta Rei

ForTune 0047 034

P.U.R. Collective

Nichi Nichi Kore Ko Nichi

ForTune 0056 (006)

Something In The Air: Skilful Eastern European Musicians are No Polish Joke

By Ken Waxman

Since the realignment of east and west after the fall of the Berlin Wall, musicians of every stripe have found new playing opportunities and partners. In the former Soviet countries, one particularly fertile area for improvisers has been Poland. While westerners may figure Polish jazz begins and ends with Krzysztof Komeda’s score for Rosemary’s Baby and other Roman Polanski films, the country’s rich jazz history goes back to the 1920s and maintained its place during Communist rule. Today like the equivalent attention paid to their ancestral roots among the children of immigrants, western improvisers have discovered the fulfillment of working with Polish bands or having Polish musicians part of their groups. MORE

October 1, 2015

Matthew Shipp/Mat Walerian Duo

The Uppercut- Live at Okuden
ESP-Disk 5007

Matthew Shipp Quartet

Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers

RogueArt ROG-0057

Bobby Kapp

Themes 4 Transmutation

No Label No #

By Ken Waxman

With his mature artistry fully established following 20 years of recording and recent leadership of a working trio with Michael Bisio and Whit Dickey, pianist Matthew Shipp continues to defy conventions by trying out various formulas and partnerships. For example Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers is an extended meditation on nine of the keyboardist’s composition by Shipp plus bassist William Parker, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Sabir Mateen and drummer Gerald Cleaver; all of whom he has collaborated with in the past. A sharp left turn The Uppercut - Live at Okuden is a first recording of a meeting of minds between Shipp and Polish reedist Mat Walerian. Finally Themes 4 Transmutation is a rare below-the-radar sideman turn by Shipp joining two other younger players to work with veteran drummer Bobby Kapp, one of the original New Thing percussionists from the ‘60s. MORE

October 1, 2015

Matthew Shipp Quartet

Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers
RogueArt ROG-0057

Matthew Shipp/Mat Walerian Duo

The Uppercut- Live at Okuden

ESP-Disk 5007

Bobby Kapp

Themes 4 Transmutation

No Label No #

By Ken Waxman

With his mature artistry fully established following 20 years of recording and recent leadership of a working trio with Michael Bisio and Whit Dickey, pianist Matthew Shipp continues to defy conventions by trying out various formulas and partnerships. For example Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers is an extended meditation on nine of the keyboardist’s composition by Shipp plus bassist William Parker, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Sabir Mateen and drummer Gerald Cleaver; all of whom he has collaborated with in the past. A sharp left turn The Uppercut - Live at Okuden is a first recording of a meeting of minds between Shipp and Polish reedist Mat Walerian. Finally Themes 4 Transmutation is a rare below-the-radar sideman turn by Shipp joining two other younger players to work with veteran drummer Bobby Kapp, one of the original New Thing percussionists from the ‘60s. MORE

October 1, 2015

Bobby Kapp

Themes 4 Transmutation
No Label No #

Matthew Shipp Quartet

Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers

RogueArt ROG-0057

Matthew Shipp/Mat Walerian Duo

The Uppercut- Live at Okuden

ESP-Disk 5007

By Ken Waxman

With his mature artistry fully established following 20 years of recording and recent leadership of a working trio with Michael Bisio and Whit Dickey, pianist Matthew Shipp continues to defy conventions by trying out various formulas and partnerships. For example Declared Enemy - Our Lady of the Flowers is an extended meditation on nine of the keyboardist’s composition by Shipp plus bassist William Parker, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Sabir Mateen and drummer Gerald Cleaver; all of whom he has collaborated with in the past. A sharp left turn The Uppercut - Live at Okuden is a first recording of a meeting of minds between Shipp and Polish reedist Mat Walerian. Finally Themes 4 Transmutation is a rare below-the-radar sideman turn by Shipp joining two other younger players to work with veteran drummer Bobby Kapp, one of the original New Thing percussionists from the ‘60s. MORE

April 27, 2015

Matthew Shipp Trio

Root of Things
Relative Pitch Records RPR 1022

Stefan Orins Trio

Liv

Circum Disc CIDI 1402

Perhaps it’s case of comparing apples and oranges, but these takes on the classic piano trio end up with telling and widely different results. Usually classified as part of the so-called avant garde, and after almost a quarter century of recording, New York pianist Matthew Ship has produced what may be his most conventional Jazz album. Concurrently the French trio helmed by Lille-based pianist Stefan Orins, which has been a unit since 1996, and whose members move in-and-out of the experimental sphere, has come up with a CD that is high gloss, but virtually indistinguishable from many other sessions. Both are still quality products. MORE

January 21, 2015

Matthew Shipp

I've Been To Many Places
Thirsty Ear Recordings THI 57209.2

Connie Crothers

Concert in Paris

New Artists NA 1059 CD

Mircea Tiberian

November

OpenArt Records No #

For an unswerving improviser approaching a solo piano session involves more than collecting charts of his or her favorite tunes. While there may be direct or indirect references to known material – as two of these three sessions demonstrate – the fundamentals demand establishing a unique concept while in the midst of an involved – and involving – performance. MORE

October 26, 2014

Jeff Cosgrove/Matthew Shipp/William Parker

Alternating Currents
Grizzley Music 002

Benjamin Duboc/Didier Lasserre/Henri Roger

Parole Plongée

Facing You/IMR 004

Taking one of Jazz’s classic formations as its starting point(s), two piano trios bring novel ideas and completely different approaches to the standard piano/bass/drums ensemble. Intriguingly each of these combos – one American and one French – adds a fresh player to a duo that over time has fused into an unbeatable combination. Notwithstanding the imposing sounds made by each group, the feeling remains that one hitherto unproven trio ends up sounding as if the new player is a guest at his own party, while the other engagement is more organic. MORE

September 1, 2014

Ivo Perelman

The Other Edge
Leo Records CD LR 699

Grencsó Open Collective

Flat/Síkvidék

BMC CD 205

After about a half a century, so-called avant-garde Jazz is defined differently depending on the players, even if the configuration involved is the standard saxophone-piano-bass-drum quartet. For instance the Hungarian-based Open Collective, led by reedist István Grencsó, performs eight originals wedded to the song form. Meanwhile Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman’s otherwise all-American quartet’s eight originals are on the other edge, exploring almost completely abstract ideas. Each approach is equally valid and memorable. MORE

February 26, 2014

Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp

Rex, Wrecks & XXX
RogueArt R0G-0050

Having already turned out an exceptional duo CD where he traded ideas with advanced British saxophonist John Butcher, American pianist Matthew Shipp ups the ante with a two-CD set featuring him and the protean force of BritImprov: tenor saxophonist Evan Parker. The two recorded previously on 2007’s Abbey Road Duos, with Parker playing both soprano and tenor saxophone, but here the London-based reedist sticks to the larger horn, and with twice as much space links one extended live and eight shorter studio improvisations. The results not only producer a rewarding program but also confirm the virtuosity and versatility of both players. MORE

January 3, 2014

Perelman/Shipp/Dickey/Cleaver

Enigma
Leo Records CD LR 683

The Rempis Percussion Quartet

Phalanx

Aerophonic AR-001

Although the concept of having two drummers as part of an improvising ensemble isn’t a new one, it must be done judiciously so the percussion doesn’t overwhelm the other players. The situation is especially problematic when dealing with as few as four musicians, but both sessions here are organized so that this atypical make-up doesn’t impede creativity.

At the same time each session differ from the other due to the choice of individual chordal instrument. Phalanx, recorded in Antwerp and Milwaukee is held together during four extensive blow-outs by the powerful bass work of Norwegian-turned Texan Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. Together in different configurations since 2004, the percussion part of The Rempis Percussion Quartet is made up of Frank Rosaly and Tim Daisy, both of whom are in-demand on the expanding Chicago improv scene. Dave Rempis, who plays alto, tenor and baritone saxophone on the disc, is best known for his work in the Vandermark5. MORE

December 3, 2013

Artist Feature:

Ivo Perelman
By Ken Waxman

“When [Brazilian director] Gustavo Galvão first asked me to do the soundtrack for his film I thought he was crazy,” confesses tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman, 52. “I said I don’t do that kind of thing and play to cues. I only play my music the way I do.” Yet Galvão, who had made a special trip to New York precisely to get the São Paulo-born saxophonist to create music for his film finally agreed to let Perelman do it his own way with musician of his own choice. Before heading into the studio with violist Matt Maneri and pianist Matthew Ship, Perelman explained the film concept to them, knowing that different moods would emerge as they recorded their improvisations. Titled after the fact, and sequenced into eight tracks, the improvisations now make up the music for the director’s first international feature A Violent Dose of Anything. (Uma Dose Violenta de Qualquer Coisa in Portuguese). Not only is the music preserved on a CD of the same title, but it recently won an award as best original soundtrack at a prestigious Brazilian film festival. Would he do other movie projects? “Introduce me to more people like Gustavo then I’ll do more film music,” jokes Perelman. MORE

October 24, 2013

Matthew Shipp

Piano Sutras
Thirsty Ear

Julie Sassoon

Land of Shadows

JazzWerkstatt JW 127

Agustí Fernández

Pianoactivity\One

Sirulita 1201

Pat Thomas

Al-Khwarizmi Variations

Fataka 4

Less of a arduous challenge than a literal record of a keyboardist`s skill at a particular point in time, the solo piano disc is still a milestone in the career of any improvising musician. Although much more common than in years past and latterly joined by innumerable other unaccompanied showcases by reed, brass, string and percussion players, the historical heft of a piano disc is still significant. MORE

September 3, 2013

Perelman/Shipp/Parker/Cleaver

Serendipity
Leo Records CD LR 668

Perelman/Shipp/Bisio/Dickey

The Edge

Leo Records CD LR 667

One of the decisions – of many – that has to be made when playing purely improvised music is whether to break inspiration into bite-sized pieces or eject the narratives as mammoth slabs. On these complementary CDs, Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman, who has recorded in context ranging from solo to septets, tries both on for size. While correspondingly stimulating, the personnel of the two quartets defines the creations more than the instruments used. MORE

September 3, 2013

Perelman/Shipp/Bisio/Dickey

The Edge
Leo Records CD LR 667

Perelman/Shipp/Parker/Cleaver

Serendipity

Leo Records CD LR 668

One of the decisions – of many – that has to be made when playing purely improvised music is whether to break inspiration into bite-sized pieces or eject the narratives as mammoth slabs. On these complementary CDs, Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman, who has recorded in context ranging from solo to septets, tries both on for size. While correspondingly stimulating, the personnel of the two quartets defines the creations more than the instruments used. MORE

February 28, 2013

John Butcher/Matthew Shipp

At Oto
Fataka 2

John Butcher

Bell Trove Spools

Northern Spy NSCD 032

Expressive in distinct ways, these CDs by British soprano and tenor saxophonist John Butcher not only expand understanding of his distinctive solo playing, but on one session also demonstrates how he reacts in a duo situation with a free player from a parallel tradition.

That CD is At Oto, and the other musician is New York pianist Matthew Shipp. Shipp is known for his work with the most committed exponents of the tough and vociferous Free Jazz tradition as well as electro-oriented experimenters who flirt with Rock and Hip-Hop beats. Butcher, on the other hand, whose list of collaborators, is as extensive as Shipp’s, comes from the cerebral and hushed Free Music tradition, where improvisers share concepts with notated musicians, especially when it comes to utilizing electronics. MORE

October 7, 2012

Festival Report

The Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

A spectre was haunting the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), but it was a benign spectre: the ghost of John Coltrane. The influence of Coltrane, who died in 1967, was honored in direct and indirect ways throughout the five days of the festival which takes places annually in this mid-sized college town, 100 kilometres west of Toronto.

This year’s edition (September 5 to 9), featured two live performances of Ascension, Coltrane’s free jazz masterwork from 1965, one with the original instrumentation by an 11-piece Toronto ensemble at the local arts centre; the other on the main stage of the soft-seated River Run Centre concert hall featured the Bay-area ROVA saxophone’s quartet reimaging of the work, scored for 12 musicians adding strings and electronics to the basic ensemble. MORE

September 6, 2012

Matthew Shipp Trio

Elastic Aspects
Thirsty Ear TH 57202.2

ROVA Saxophone Quartet

A Short History

Jazzwerkstatt JW 099

Ballrogg

Cabin Music

Hubro CD 2515

Albert Beger/Gerry Hemingway

There’s Nothing Better to Do

OutNow Records ONR 007

Something in The Air: New Excitement at the Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

One of jazz’s watershed musical creations, John Coltrane’s 1965 performance of Ascension marked his committeemen to Free Jazz and has since served as a yardstick against which saxophone-centred large ensemble improvisations are measured. On September 7 at the River Run Centre’s main stage, one of the highpoints of this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival is a reimagining of Coltrane’s masterwork by the Bay area-based ROVA Saxophone Quartet and guests. Not only is the ensemble gutsily tackling the suite, but its arrangement take Coltrane’s all-acoustic piece for five saxes, two trumpets and rhythm section and reconfigures it so that ROVA’s four saxes, and one trumpeter interact with two drummers, two violins, electric guitar and bass plus electronic processing. MORE

January 10, 2012

Ivo Perelman Quartet

The Hour of the Star
Leo Records CD LR 605

Eastern Boundary Quartet

Icicles

Konnex KCD 5258

Carlo De Rosa’s Cross-Fade

Brain Dance

Cuneiform Rune 317

Of all the formations that have characterized improvisation at least since the Bop era, the most common has been that of one reed player along with piano, bass and drums. Just because it’s unexceptional doesn’t mean every session has to be identical however, especially if the meeting ground is original compositions. As these quartet discs demonstrate, plenty of variations are available, even if the form prods participants towards a mainstream orientation. MORE

August 6, 2011

Label Spotlight:

SoLyd Records
By Ken Waxman

Like that of many successful endeavours ranging from the mass production of the automobile, the feature-length cartoon or the personal computer, SoLyd record label’s driving force is one person. While Andrei Gavrilov, may or may not like the comparison to Walt Disney, Henry Ford or Steve Jobs, it’s his ideas, taste and finances that keep the Moscow-based label afloat and is responsible for its massive, (more than 400 releases) somewhat idiosyncratic catalogue. “Sometimes, when I look over the catalogue I get confused myself,” he admits. MORE

June 10, 2011

Matthew Shipp/Sabir Mateen

SaMa Live in Moscow
SoLyd SLR 0408

By Ken Waxman

Rather than Moscow on the Hudson, this session is more like the Lower East Side transferred to near Red Square, as two of Manhattan’s most accomplished downtown improvisers express their art for an enthusiastic audience in the Russian capital.

Associates in a variety of group as well as consummate band leaders, pianist Matthew Shipp and especially multi-reedist Sabir Mateen aren’t constrained by technique when either feels the need for expression beyond standard notes. At the same time, as indicated by the inclusion of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” in the set list, both have strong links to the ongoing tradition. MORE

October 17, 2010

Marshall Allen/Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris

Night Logic
Rogueart Rog-0028

More like a cozy song-swap around the campfire by a trio of equals than an intergenerational showdown or torch passing, Night Logic still offers 10 real-time improvisations between of representative of today’s advanced music and a musician who has trawled the sonic spaceways for many decades.

Pianist Matthew Shipp, 49, epitomizes the contemporary multi-directional explorer, at home playing in advanced Free Music situations with bassist Mike Bisio and saxophonist David S. Ware, to cite two, as he is involved in synthesizers and programming with Chris Flam or the Anti-pop Consortium. Joining him here is multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen, 86, who has been part of Sun Ra’s Arkestra since 1956 and led the large improvisational ensemble since Ra’s death 16 years ago. Backing both with stops and strokes that are usually more felt than heard is bassist Joe Morris, 54, equally renown for his guitar playing. MORE

August 22, 2010

Matthew Shipp/Sabir Mateen

SAMA
NotTwo NW 817-2

Sabir Mateen

Urdla XXX

RogueArt ROG-0026

One of the linchpins of the Free Jazz scene centred around New York’s Lower East Side, multi-reedman Sabir Mateen’s fiery improvising has been a contributing factor to the musical successes of many bands, most notably those led by bassist William Parker and trombonist Steve Swell, plus his own combos.

Nonetheless the true mark of a sophisticated improviser is how inventively the musician operates alone or nearly so; and these CDs confirm the breadth of Mateen’s creativity. Recorded at New York’s Roulette performance space, but without an audience present, SAMA is a duo date that matches Mateen’s clarinet stylings with the piano of Matthew Shipp, another downtowner who has also worked with everyone from Parker (William) to Parker (Evan). Using alto saxophone, clarinet, alto clarinet, bells and percussive noise-makers Mateen is recorded alone with a live audience on Urdla XXX. His concert marked the 30th anniversary of Urdla, an engraving workshop in Villeurbanne, France. MORE

June 1, 2010

Matthew Shipp

Nu Bop Live
Rai Trade RTPJ 0015

The Frame Quartet

35 MM

Okka Disk OD 12078

Rempis/Rosaly

Cyrillic

482 Music 482-1064

Connie Crothers-Michel Bisio

Sessions at 475 Kent

Mutable 17537-2

Extended Play: Combos: Ad Hoc and Long Constituted in Toronto

By Ken Waxman

Long-established jazz groups have become as common as pop hits based on Mozart melodies topping the charts – they sometimes exist. But with accomplished improvisers tempted by side projects, bands often reconstitute and sidemen regularly have their own gigs. In most cases, though, this doesn’t affect the music’s quality. MORE

November 20, 2008

Steve Dalachinsky and Matthew Shipp

Logos and Language: A Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue
RogueArt

with photographs by Lorna Lentini

Defining the process of sonic creation is difficult enough when analyzing notated works. But when it comes to improvised music, each performer’s individual background and beliefs weigh even more heavily.

Widely recorded American pianist Matthew Shipp, a self-described avant-garde jazz musician, attempts to articulate his improvisational philosophy in dialogue with New York poet Steve Dalachinsky in this book. The discussion takes up about half of this volume, while Shipp’s written musings on the subject plus a selection of Dalachinsky’s poems, written while listening to the pianist, complete the book. MORE

January 15, 2008

Matthew Shipp Trio

Piano Vortex
Thirsty Ear THI 57180

Undeniably confirming that he can easily make an unhyphenated jazz album, Matthew Shipp puts aside the studio processing and remixing he’s used on sessions with electronica duo Spring Heel Jack or DJ Spooky for a standard jazz piano trio with notable results.

Filled out by the pianist’s long-time associates – drummer Whit Dickey and bassist Joe Morris – the New York-based combo runs through eight Shipp compositions, lodged so firmly in the tradition that the CD could be slotted alongside 1950s’Red Garland LPs with Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. Shipp quotes “Giant Steps” in the middle of one number and his unaccompanied track could be an offbeat variant on “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. No Taylor, Dickey snaps his cymbals and finesses the beat, leaving the heavy lifting to the others. Morris sticks mostly to low pitches, thumping or pumping behind Shipp’s bouncy runs and flashing cadenzas, rarely unveiling squat arco runs. MORE

November 2, 2007

Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp

Abbey Road Duos
Treader trd 009

Confluence of musical improvisations at the highest plane, this CD captures a cross-generational melding of minds between a veteran British saxophonist and an accomplished American pianist. Although tenor and soprano saxophonist Evan Parker (b. 1944) initially solidified his mature style around when Matthew Shipp (b. 1960) was taking his first piano lessons, the inspired performances suggest no generational or geographic gap.

If any fissure exists, it’s that the British reedist’s tone is initially uncharacteristically breathy and gentle on the four-track tenor saxophone suite. Later as the pianist’s undertow of arpeggios hardens to metronomic pounding, exposing the keyboard’s timbral limits, broad-chested tenor exhalations solidify into harsh split tones, reed bites and note smears. MORE

October 2, 2006

JOE MCPHEE/MATT SHIPP/DOMINIC DUVAL

In Finland
Cadence CJR 1186

BONI/LAZRO/MCPHEE/TCHAMITCHIAN
Next To You
émouvance émv 1023

By Ken Waxman

Recorded five months apart in 2004, these sessions confirm one again the apparently endless adaptability of multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. NEXT TO YOU is the first time the Poughkeepsie, N.Y. native has recorded with his French quartet after 12 years of its existence. IN FINLAND on the other hand is a classic one-off festival gig in Raahe, where pianist Matthew Shipp joins the long-established duo of McPhee and bassist Dominic Duval. Both have something unique to offer. MORE

September 12, 2005

DAVID S. WARE

Live in the World
Thirsty Ear THI 57153.2

David S. Ware doesn’t shy away from the Free Jazz label. Unlike some contemporary improvisers who say they play Free Music and treat jazz the way nouveau riche yuppies view acquaintances still wearing last year’s clothes, the tenor saxophonist esteems the tradition that goes back through 1960s New Thing to take in distinctive reed stylists such as Sonny Rollins and before that Coleman Hawkins.

This three-CD set of live performances helps stake his claim as one of the foremost jazz tenor saxophone stylist in the 21st century. Made up of one 1998 Swiss concert and two Italian gigs from 2003, it features three different drummers: the band’s former trapsperson, Susie Ibarra; its present one Guillermo E. Brown; and Hamid Drake, the gentleman from Chicago who often plays with the quartet’s longtime bassist William Parker. Ware’s tough love jazz values are such that they run roughshod over any tendency towards electronica or world music in which some of the other players have indulged at other times. The three hours of music also confirm Ware’s status as a major league jazzer. MORE

May 2, 2005

MATTHEW SHIPP/WILLIAM PARKER/GUILLERMO E BROWN TRIO.

Plays Ware
Splasc(H) Records CDH 862.2

Who would have believed at this late date that underneath his blustery interior melodic and romantic impulses inhabit the soul of Free Jazz firebrand tenor saxophonist David S. Ware? His regular sidemen – to name three individuals.

This CD offers eight of the reedist’s original compositions interpreted by pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown. At its conclusion, without knowing the writer’s identity, you might link the intense pieces are some of pianist Herbie Nichols’ tougher lines or even unknown modernistic Duke Ellington compositions. MORE

August 11, 2003

GOLD SPARKLE TRIO

Thunder Reminded Me
Clean Feed CF009 CD

CHARLES WATERS/ANDREW BARKER/MATTHEW SHIPP
Apostolic Polyphony
Drimala DR 03-347-01

Atlanta has never been known as a hotbed of creative music. Country blues may have been played there years ago -- by Blind Willie McTell and Peg Leg Howell -- and written down -- by W.C. Handy at about the same time, while popsters like Destiny Child thrive there today. But deep-dish improv has never really been welcomed by the town.

It’s no wonder then that its best-known jazzers like pianist Duke Pearson and alto saxophonist Marion Brown made their reputation elsewhere. Right now, this archetype seems to be playing itself out again with the members of the Gold Sparkle Band (GSB). MORE

June 16, 2003

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Live from the Vision Festival
Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2

The next best thing to being there, this combination CD and DVD package offers a distillation of some of the outstanding performances from last year’s Vision Festival in New York’s Lower East Side. Lacking the name recognition of Newport, Montreux, or any other capitalist entity-associated international star festival, in its less than 10 year existence, Vision has still promulgated a unique artistic vision.

Built around the vision of bassist William Parker, it’s a place where pioneering avant gardists from the 1960s mix it up with younger players who are carrying on experimental ideals. It’s cross-cultural, national and international as well, with the musicians showcased on this session arriving from Germany, Korea, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Valencia, Calif., New Orleans… and Brooklyn, MORE

March 3, 2003

DAVID S. WARE

Freedom Suite
AUM Fidelity AUM 023

Performing and recording the music of another innovator is probably the most profound challenge a jazzman can face. Especially difficult is reinterpreting a piece that brings forth memories of the originator every time it’s played; and this predicament doubles when the piece involved is programmatic, rather than just one tune.

Through careful planning and -- to be honest -- luck, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and his quartet have avoided these pitfalls with their version of Sonny Rollins’ FREEDOM SUITE, originally done in 1958. For a start, unlike Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk -- to name three other jazz stars whose works are constantly being recast -- no one else has tried to take on Rollins’ masterwork. Additionally, although the piece itself presaged a group of equally important thematic Pan African and Black Nationalist compositions by Max Roach -- who also played on the disc -- Charles Mingus and Coltrane, the suite itself is mostly based on tone and dynamic variations, rather than definitive motifs. MORE

January 22, 2003

MANERI ENSEMBLE

Going To Church
AUM Fidelity AUM 024

MAT MANERI
Sustain
Thirsty Ear THI 57122.2

Substantial slices of Maneri music, these two new CDs prove that while violist Mat Manner has internalized the quirky cogitation and execution of his father, reedist Joe Maneri, he’s not adverse to testing out some ideas of his own in different contexts.

Father-son improvisers are nothing new on the jazz scene and have ranged from boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons and his funky tenor saxophonist son Gene Ammons to mainstream pianist Ellis Marsalis and his progeny. But few offspring are as inculcated in his father’s music, as Mat -- born in 1969 -- who began playing music with his father when he was only seven. It’s hardly necessary to point out that Joe -- born in 1927 -- was no mainstream Marsalis. A jobbing musician for years with an interest in ethnic, microtonal and 12-tone composition as well as jazz improvisation, his talent finally got him a gig teaching theory and composition at Boston’s New England Conservatory in 1970. But his single-mindedness left him unrecorded until his belated emergence in the mid-1990s. MORE

November 18, 2002

SPRING HEEL JACK

Amassed
Thirsty Ear TH 57123.2

Note: this CD project was done by certified professionals. Kids don’t try to replicate it at home.

That fanciful slogan could be attached on a parental advisory sticker for this disc. For despite the proliferation of less expensive computer mixing and sampling equipment over the past few years, producing a CD which melds improvised music and studio-created sounds is much more difficult than your average club remix.

But Britons John Coxon and Ashley Wells, who operate as Spring Hell Jack (SHJ), know exactly what they’re doing, as this session aptly demonstrates. Many attempts by others are embarrassing, unmusical, or both. MORE

June 29, 2002

MATTHEW SHIPP

Songs
Splasc(H) CDH 840.2

Pianist Matthew Shipp seems to have decided to become Anthony Braxton.

It’s not that he’s about to start playing reeds -- although that might be just deserts for Braxton putting out CDs featuring his own piano playing -- it’s just that like the older man, he’s now involving himself in a panoply of -- for him -- unusual music.

Braxton has long had a reputation as a musical chameleon. No sooner did he establish an identity as a committed saxophone explorer and composer, then he began turning out albums of jazz standards. Then when fans became used to that, he released sessions filled with chamber, orchestral and operatic works that were linked more to modern so-called serious music than jazz. He’s continued to move among these genres to this day. MORE

March 1, 2002

MATTHEW SHIPP

Nu Bop
Thirsty Ear THI 57114.2

NU BOP certainly gives pianist Matthew Shipp the forum with which to explore his inner Herbie Hancock. The question is why?

No one is saying that Shipp -- who has had to put up with enough unwarranted Cecil Taylor comparisons during his career as a free jazzer -- has to stick to a certain style. He’s certainly shown his versatility with standard bass-and-drums trio projects, string-centred groups and work with saxophonists like Rob Brown, Roscoe Mitchell and David S. Ware. Plus the music on this disc is more than standard jazz-tinged electronica. MORE

March 1, 2001

MATTHEW SHIPP

Nu Bop
Thirsty Ear THI 57114.2

NU BOP certainly gives pianist Matthew Shipp the forum with which to explore his inner Herbie Hancock. The question is why?

No one is saying that Shipp -- who has had to put up with enough unwarranted Cecil Taylor comparisons during his career as a free jazzer -- has to stick to a certain style. He’s certainly shown his versatility with standard bass-and-drums trio projects, string-centred groups and work with saxophonists like Rob Brown, Roscoe Mitchell and David S. Ware. Plus the music on this disc is more than standard jazz-tinged electronica. MORE

January 1, 2001

MATTHEW SHIPP

New Orbit
Thirsty Ear THI 57095.2

As pianist Matthew Shipp's recording career goes into its second decade, he's starting to reveal hitherto concealed sides of his playing. In fact, those who only know him as a member of David S. Ware's high-energy quartet will probably be quite surprised by this session.

For rather than going hell for leather as he must with Ware, this disc and PASTORAL COMPOSURE, his earlier Thirsty Ear CD, highlight his reflective, meditative playing as well as his composing. Folks forget, after all, that Shipp has long insisted that he was influenced by Bill Evans as well as Cecil Taylor.

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