As Matthew Shipp’s catalog expands, so does our understanding of the depth and breadth of his genius. In more than 25 years of recording, the avant-garde pianist has explored as many settings as any player in jazz. His duo dates—with William Parker, Joe Morris, Michael Bisio, Rob Brown, Mat Maneri, Roscoe Mitchell, Sabir Mateen, Darius Jones, Evan Parker, and here, Polish reed player Walerian—are especially revealing. In this conversational format, Shipp’s attentiveness to his partner’s moves becomes more anticipatory than reactive, and Walerian’s alto sax, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, and flute push Shipp in many directions, while adding an extraordinary range of colors and textures around the bright edginess and rich chords of the acoustic piano. There are lots of blues and bop intonations and songlike melodies to make these original boundary- bashing pieces accessible to mainstream listeners. But Shipp, 54, and his de facto protégé Walerian, 31, throw in plenty of fractured harmonies, skittering rhythms, guttural honks, and high-register squeals as the moment moves them. Other than the applause preceding the encore, you might forget that this is a concert date, though the roomy sound of the piano and the palpably spontaneous creative energy feel totally live.
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