How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
With its beautiful sound, In Finland captures three master improvisers live and spinnin' takes. Longtime fans of Matthew Shipp who miss his prolonged flights into thundering, gothic creations: this is your fix. With two tracks hovering around the thirty-minute mark, the performances allow Shipp room to stretch and flex. Joe McPhee sticks mainly to a rich-toned soprano sax, although he plays some playful pocket trumpet. A veteran of Mark Whitecage's ensembles as well as a frequent collaborator of McPhee's, bassist Dominic Duval plays rough, his hands exploding with fat, rapid-fire plucking or smeared arco.
Shipp and Duvall spar over spiky soundscapes on "Never Before. Their vivid interplay involves a frisky virtuosity. An added dimension of warmth and emotion arrives with McPhee's entry. His soulful soprano melts Shipp and Duvall's hungry explorations for the moment . As the performance develops, McPhee joins the ecstatic tumult, soaring above Shipp's canyon-deep chords.
From the beginning, "Never Again offers Monkish allusions. McPhee's crackling pocket trumpet, Duvall's abrasive scraping and Shipp's sparse intrusions change with McPhee's switch to sax, moving low and fast. Duvall's bass solo ends with Monk, and Shipp and McPhee pick it up gladly, the trio creating a medley with themes bubbling up in the boiling improvisation.
In Finland disguises a series of changes based on Gershwin's "Summertime. Shipp and Duvall's pounding accompaniment to McPhee's fluttering sax indicate that the living's not easy at all. After traveling a wide world of variation, the piece ends with McPhee adding quotes from Albert Ayler.
These three musicians blend their distinctive voices to unite in the interwoven wonder of improvised performance. Maintaining a compelling dynamism throughout, In Finland captures a valuable musical moment and brings an updated look at Matthew Shipp for some thirsty ears.
Track Listing: Never Before; Never Again; In Finland.
Personnel: Joe McPhee: soprano sax, pocket trumpet; Matthew Shipp: piano; Dominic Duval: Prescott