If the early works of Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) can be described as voyeuristic, then Blink Of An Eye
might just be Frotteurism, the act of touching others, usually in crowds, without their ever knowing. On Blink of an Eye
he alters, accents and manipulates a jazz quartet's sound, often without it being obvious.
Scanner began producing music in the late 1980s/early 1990s by pirating cellphone calls and working them into his electronic sound, an approach that fits nicely with pianist Matthew Shipp
's "nubop" concept. Rimbaud and Shipp built this recording around the tradition and lineup of the famed Modern Jazz Quartet
piano, vibes, bass, and drums. Here, Shipp is joined by vibraphonist Khan Jamal
, bassist Michael Bisio
and drummer Michael Thompson
Rimbaud's contribution, unlike a turntable DJ/producer, isn't one of mucking things up or shepherding the jazz into club music. He prefers to accentuate the concepts of the quartet instead of distract from it. Shipp and company are content to advance the original Modern Jazz Quartet's approach to the traditions of jazz into the 21st century.
Rimbaud applies synth washes, barely noticeable at times. Echoey reverberations of the music-making are ghostly and wistful. Jamal's ringing vibraphone, on the standard "Blues In C," echoes back upon the players, as Scanner manipulates the reverb, and Shipp searches out notes between eerie synth jabs. The electronics never feel foreign to the quartet's progression, nor do they deflect the drive. Previous Shipp discs, including Equilibrium
(Thirsty Ear, 2004) and Harmony And Abyss
(Thirsty Ear, 2003), may have set the table for this collaboration, but here the fusion (bad word) of jazz and electronics is a success.
From the jazz tradition, the band moves toward an open and rapid groove on "Most With the Least," as Rimbaud whispers with electronic mice, the producer even pulling out his voice samples on "Not A Frame Earlier Or Later." The disc ends with Shipp's nubop groove on "Beyond The Edge Of The Frame," perhaps hinting at the next progression for this collaboration.
Personnel: Robin Rimbaud: producer; Khan Jamal: vibraphone; Matthew Shipp: piano;
Michael Bisio: bass; Michael Thompson: drums.