There have been 7,128 days that have passed since Mat Maneri and Matthew Shipp have recorded a duo together, but who's counting? I guess we are. The Conference Of The Mat/ts session from November of 2017 may have followed Gravitational Systems (Hatology, 2000) by 19 years, 6 months and 4 days, but the pair have been heard in multiple settings in between these dates, with David S. Ware and Ivo Perelman, in Shipp's String Trio and Quartet and the Maneri Trio, Quartet and Ensemble. Perhaps their finest collaboration so far is the Matthew Shipp Chamber Ensemble recording, The Gospel According To Matthew & Michael (Relative Pitch Records, 2015) with bassist Michael Bisio.
This latest recording feels more patient and relaxed than their previous duo effort. But then, with nearly twenty years of collaboration and performance, you'd expect this kind of elegance. Maneri and Shipp improvise these thirteen pieces with a certain refinement of manner that elevates the sound to "beyond category." Jazz music? Yes. Chamber music? Certainly. Both are, and are not at all. Pure improvisation can be that hardscrabble scuffle to forge beauty from the furnace and the hammer, an approach both musicians were schooled in. But here, weapons are discarded, and the music is created from an unshielded and vulnerable position. Charge is swapped for charm and pummel for peace. Maneri's viola and Shipp's piano eschew call-and-response for mutual assured construction. The music is inherently leaderless without becoming rudderless.