Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Suite

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Suite A tangled web links the cast of Matthew Shipp’s latest recording on the adventurous NotTwo imprint. Saxophonist Daniel Carter features in Shipp’s Nubop Quartet and on his feted Strata (1997, HatHut) release, while Shipp has guested extensively with Other Dimensions In Music, one of Carter’s prime outlets. As a rhythm section, bassist Joe Morris and drummer Whit Dickey underpin Shipp’s current piano trio, but have a decade old back story on each others discs, and Carter joined both as part of the Ensemble of Possibilities at the 2008 Vision Festival. Nothing new in favored coteries hanging together, but the point here is that these guys know each other inside out and it shows in the unity of purpose which pervades these nine pieces.

Although billed as a suite, there are no obvious links between the cuts, which inhabit that delicious middle ground between the preconceived and the extemporized where distinctions blur, making the resultant offering more unknowable than a composition, yet more structured than complete improvisation. In fact it sometimes sounds as if the four are interpreting a set of themes, which are never stated yet subtly shape and color what is played.

While no-one consistently leads, Shipp’s insistent resounding chords act as recurring motifs which energize the group interaction before dissipating into dark rumbling undercurrents or romantic flourishes. Carter, who features on trumpet, clarinet and alto saxophone, studiously avoids the easy option of echoing Shipp, gliding serenely above the pianist’s repeated patterns. His abstract musings largely eschew the extreme registers; with bluesy melodics often ending in sighs or whispers. Part Eight is the exception where Carter’s urgent keening alto outpouring culminates in a ululating cry, returning later for a coda of delicate lyricism ending in a heart rending vibrato, for one of the highlights of the album.

Largely restrained, drummer Dickey nonetheless nurtures a continually evolving pulse, while keeping up an oblique commentary of intricate cymbal patterns and timbral variation. On bass Morris, though similarly controlled, cannily augments the already fertile group interaction, perhaps deploying a measured pizzicato in loose conjunction with Dickey or interjecting ominous arco flurries.

From the romantic cadences of Part One, through the spacey chamber feel of Part Three, which Shipp sits out allowing Carter’s percolating clarinet to hold court, to the bouncing rhythm of Part Four where a recurring riff from Shipp presages a tender dialogue between alto and bass, each piece is jam packed full of eventful detail defying description. Shipp features strongly Part Six where his lyrical lines make nodding acquaintance with the quick stepping bass and drums, while Part Seven is a solo piano exploration of varying tempos and registers. Part Nine delivers spacious resolution at journey’s end with sparse piano, murmurs and mutters from Carter’s alto, shaded by cymbal and drum textures before Morris’ pizzicato deliberation on what has gone before essays a downbeat ending to what has been an absorbing, surprising and intense session: one which handsomely repays repeated listening and matches the best of Shipp’s recent output.

Track Listing: Cosmic Suite Part One; Cosmic Suite Part Two; Cosmic Suite Part Three; Cosmic Suite Part Four; Cosmic Suite Part Five; Cosmic Suite Part Six; Cosmic Suite Part Seven; Cosmic Suite Part Eight; Cosmic Suite Part Nine.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Daniel Carter: trumpet, clarinet, alto saxophone; Joe Morris: bass; Whit Dickey: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: NotTwo Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


  • Thesis
    Matthew Shipp
    Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...
  • 4D
    Matthew Shipp
CD/LP/Track Review
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
Eric Dolphy Eric Dolphy
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
Tim Berne Tim Berne
David Murray David Murray
sax, tenor

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Illustrations" CD/LP/Track Review Illustrations
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "The Rhythm Method" CD/LP/Track Review The Rhythm Method
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "ReNew" CD/LP/Track Review ReNew
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 11, 2016
Read "When In Moscow" CD/LP/Track Review When In Moscow
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 12, 2016
Read "Sektion 1-2" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 1-2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!