Mat Walerian / Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Hamid Drake

April 18, 2021

Every Dog has its Day But it Doesn’t Matter Because Fat Cat is Getting Fatter

ESP Disk 5037

A new construct in Polish multi-instrumentalist Mat Walerian’s ongoing relationship with New York pianist Matthew Shipp, as well as the duo’s links with percussionist Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker, the ante is upped, on eight lengthy tracks spread over two CDs. The rhythm sectin needs no introduction, while Walerian, who plays alto saxophone, bass and soprano clarinets and flute. He has also internalized the ins-and-outs of creating Energy Music as well as any woodwind player on any continent.

Nestled among the bassist’s affiliated thumps and fluid pulsing, irregular drum textures that emphasize varied parts of the kit and piano textures that range from harpsichord-like nuances to echoes of Swing, Stride and weaving or elliptical chording, Walerian has space to use all, of his horns. With its torqued bass string stops and spiccato scrubs in the background the exposition of “Thelonious Forever” judders between Shipp’s subtle theme elaborations and Walerian’s clarinet squeaky decorations which climax in shattering overblowing. On the other hand, moderate clarinet textures create the buzzing ostinato behind Parker’s outpourings on “Sir Denis”. Accelerating to strained sopranissio vibrations, at the half-way point the reedist joins the others to open up the Parker feature to a Blues groove, with bottom speared piano tones and hard-driving drum beats.

Elsewhere as the other raise the intensity level to fervid pandemic styled narratives with sul tasto string pumps, chiming piano vamps and a series of cymbal slaps and drum power pumps, Walerian’s other horns come into play. Honking and slurping above double bass vibrations, he spins out seemingly endless alto saxophone variations. Distinctively, the final “Lesson II” exposes goatherd-like flute whines that mix and connect to Parker’s corrosive shakuhachi puffs. When Walerian switches to warmer bass clarinet slurs, the track becomes more emotionally realized as cumulative piano cascades and double bass string strums plaster textures onto irregular drum pops for a triumphant summation.

The sheer volume of material on these CDs results in improv-overkill. But judicious selection of tracks over a protracted time period leads to a more satisfying experience.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: CD 1: 1. The Forest Council 2. Thelonious Forever 3. Magic World Pt. 1 – Study. 4. Magic World Pt. 2 – Work 5. Magic World Pt. 3 – Life CD 2 6. Sir Denis 7. Business with William 8. Lesson II

Personnel: Mat Walerian (alto saxophone, bass and soprano clarinets and flute); Matthew Shipp (piano); William Parker (bass and shakuhachi) and Hamid Drake (drums and percussion)