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Bobby Kapp / Matthew Shipp: Cactus

Dan McClenaghan By

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Drummer Bobby Kapp, free jazz spirit in New York in the mid-sixties, relocated to Mexico City, to the Artists' colony San Miguel de Allede. But he gets around, and on a return to New York he joined pianist Matthew Shipp to record a terrific set of duo improvisations called Cactus.

Shipp, the better-known half of the team, plays with a vehemence that parallels his public persona—a prickly, chip-on-the-shoulder, in-your-face approach, a sort of Randy Weston meets Cecil Taylor to and rub elbows with Bud Powell—if Powell had played with serious attitude. Kapp, for his part, rumbles and rolls, he whispers and shuffles. He rat-ta-tats to make you break into a dance step, and sometimes he stomps, and he may be the most simpatico band mate Shipp has ever worked with.

Shipp is prolific. His Wikipedia page list five releases in 2015, and they probably missed a couple. Kapp has available recordings with his Fine Wine Trio, a collaboration with free jazz saxophonist Noah Howard, and his 2015 offering, Cilia Sin Embargo (Self Produced).

Cactus opens with the eight and half minute "Overture," a frenetic improvisation full of angles, and a momentum that waxes and wanes. Shipp leaves more space than he normally does. He seems to search, discover, then explore new tangents. His normal percussive approach is leaner, crisper, as Kapp lays down a tight weave of textures. "Before" sounds composed. Shipp's left hands plays walking bass to Kapp's bright cymbal splashes. Kapp—like Billy Mintz and the late Paul Motian—is a rare drum kit poet. His melodic intro to "Money" is a divinely masterful ninety seconds, leading into Shipp's discombobulation of notes that gels into a compelling, light-stepping beauty.

Everything meshed on this set. Cactus proves itself cohesive CD full of unpretentious, adventurous, improvised beauty.

Track Listing: Overture; Before; During; Money; Cactus;After; Good Wood; Snow Storm Coming; Drum-a-Phone; The 3rd Sound.

Personnel: Bobby Kapp: drums; Matthew Shipp: piano

Title: Cactus | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Northern-Spy Records

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