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Live Reviews

Matthew Shipp at Cafe Oto, London

By Published: March 6, 2010

No less intrinsic to the overall sound were the saxophonist and drummer. Equally adept at full-force momentum or textural exploration, Sanders likewise demonstrated his value to the quartet. An inventive player, he was continually varying his timbres, providing both pulse and commentary simultaneously. At times he drummed with two paintbrushes or sneaked miniature cymbals onto the drum heads for added resonance. In one exposition of crisp shimmers and rolls, he inserted a stick between two halves of his hi- hat to create a dazzling alternating sizzle.



Even without a mic Dunmall is a powerhouse, and he was in real fire-breathing mode tonight. Whether muscularly speaking in tongues, running notes together into a bubbling squeal, or indulging in rich mid-period Trane lyricism, there was no stopping him. One saxophone and rhythm trio section found him fearlessly negotiating undulating melodic contours at reckless speed with impassioned paint-stripping tenor. Looking on, Shipp was stomping his feet and rocking hard, before joining in pounding counterpoint for a fiery skronking quartet passage. Not all their interactions were so intense: a later duet was all liquid piano drops limned by short tenor bursts, until Shipp's bluesy tinges inspired an episode of wayward yelps from the reedman.

Sudden change in the grain of the music happened seemingly without warning. Like a flock of wheeling birds everyone knew when to turn unprompted but in perfect synch with their neighbor. From a combination of uncanny instinct and hard-won experience, they flipped from forceful workout to restrained rectitude in the blink of an eye. Wherever the attention alighted, there was wholesome musical sustenance, complete in itself but at the same time part of the greater banquet. By the end, it was clear that this was free jazz of the highest order. The smiles, handshakes, hugs, and backslapping all round at the close were a sign that the participants thought it was as good as the audience's rapturous acknowledgement suggested.



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