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When I walked into the record shop to buy this album, the staff was playing it over the sound system. The twenty-five year old manager and twenty year old assistant working the counter were really digging it. They had no idea that "free jazz sounded so cool!" In short, they could relate. I came away from the place feeling good about Antipop and Matthew Shipp for that reason alone. They could relate.
After listening to the music, the connection becomes obvious: this album is an integrated fusion of styles. There is no gap between jazz and hip-hop hereit is a jazz record as much as a hip-hop record. Go back and listen to Max Roach's Deeds, Not Words and Freedom Now Suite, then check the rhythms and drum sound of Vs.. Listen to Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures, then check Shipp's left hand ostinatos on VS.. As for the hip-hop aspect, check the soundtrack to Ghost Dog or the Wu-Tang Clan's 36 Chambers album for some background.
The music on this album is driving, urban, thoughtful, and deeply spiritual. Guillermo E. Brown is one happenin' drummer. He's playing something fresh! He's taking hip-hop, trip-hop, and swing into new directions. Check this man's cymbal work! This music makes your head bob and weave like you're channelling Muhammad Ali. William Parker sounds inspired and deep into the music. Every player on this project is deep in it, really. It sounds like they mean it. Improvisation at its highest level is practiced as a daily meditation. It's about understanding your voice and what you're saying with that voice. This is hip music coming from modern jazz, with hip-hop masters gettin' next to it.
The feeling projected by this music communicates the same vibe I felt with early ECM and Impulse! records, that tangible difference when someone truly pushes the envelope forward. Hopefully that vibe will continue.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.