Darius Jones / Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Lieder (2011)
Cosmic Lieder contains the sound of a duo engaged in an exercise in totality, which takes in no small amount of the music's past even while there's never any doubt that both players are concerned with music of the futurethough, happily, not over-earnestly so. But to call this program a "coming-of-age" would be misleading. Of the two, pianist Matthew Shipp has staked the greater claim on the future by having been on the scene longer, but in saxophonist Darius Jones' case, this is his most compelling recorded statement to date. The coming together of two such distinct musical outlooks has resulted in a body of music that rewards repeated listening, even while it hints at things to come.
The notion of a work in progress is highlighted on "Multiverse," where the very discontinuities of the music suggest almost telepathic understanding. It also shows that Jones appreciates how individuality stems as much from tone as anything else; the broad rasp of his sax, highlighted by the heat of proceedings, owes little overt allegiance to anyone, and, when things settle down, he shows a flair for coloration.
While the dialog on "4-D Vision" is animated, it is also informed by an acquaintance with how to accommodate near silence and space. Shipp, even while he might seem to be striving to sound iconoclastic, proves how deep a listener he is, in his ability to switch between leading the music and responding to Jones' input.
The relatively restrained "Ultima Thule" testifies to a shared lyricism that isn't obvious elsewhere. While Jones isn't, perhaps, the most naturally lyrical player, it's clear that he's capable of putting his own spin on received opinion. What's equally clear is that Shipp has shaped up to become one of the most persuasive post-Cecil Taylor pianists there is.
"Zillo Valla" amplifies on that point of reference. The dynamics of the piece are, however, entirely its own even while Jones toys with the notion of screaming through his horn. The results are as persuasive as anything on this release, leaving a lasting impression.
Track Listing: Bleed; Ultima Thule; Zillo Valla; Mandrakk; Overvold; Weeja Dell; Motherboxxx; Black Lightning; Nix Uotan; Jonesy; 4-D Vision; Geh-Jedollah.
Personnel: Darius Jones: alto sax; Matthew Shipp: piano.