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Jeff Cosgrove: Alternating Current

John Sharpe By

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Jeff Cosgrove: Alternating Current Drummer Jeff Cosgrove certainly knows how to draw attention to himself. For his third album the DC area-based drummer enlists the services of two avant jazz icons in pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker. Just what a coup this is can be gauged from the fact that Shipp's previous sideman dates have included the legendary saxophonists David S. Ware and AACM iconoclast Roscoe Mitchell. Cosgrove has studied with masters like Andrew Cyrille and Paul Motian, and has covered the latter's tunes on Motian Sickness: For The Love Of Sarah (Self Produced, 2012). It was Cyrille who hooked him up with his illustrious cohort, while Cosgrove showcases another tune by the latter on this otherwise totally improvised session.

Shipp acts as the perfect foil for a drummer given his predilection for rhythmic figures, and indeed it's straight away apparent that the exchanges between the two form one of the main talking points. Shipp deploys his customised mix of insistent motifs and crashing clusters, but makes less melodic input than on his own discs. Cosgrove doesn't groove in the same way as many of Parker's regular partners and so the connection between them remains more intuitive. Nonetheless the bassist maintains an energetic counterpoint to both drums and piano but inserts himself most effectively into the ongoing dialogue when wielding his bow.

In one way Cosgrove's pick of bandmates seems curious as both are such strong stylists and the piano inevitably comes across as the dominant voice. As a unit, it's less egalitarian than another Parker vehicle, Farmers By Nature for example, as Cosgrove responds respectfully to his stellar guests as much as leads. Where he does assert himself is in the selection of material, particularly the choice of his mentor's "Victoria." Shipp subjects the attractive theme to bass register variations, developing a dogged argument before returning to a delicate rendition of the head. Ultimately Cosgrove succeeds in raising his profile, holding his own and creating worthwhile and at times spellbinding music, though fans of Shipp and Parker will find their most vital work elsewhere.


Track Listing: Bridges Of Tomorrow; Alternating Current (For Andrew Cyrille); Victoria.

Personnel: Jeff Cosgrove: drums; Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: bass.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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