Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


Logos and Language: A Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue

Lyn Horton By

Sign in to view read count
Logos and Language: A Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue
Steve Dalachinsky and Matthew Shipp
Softcover; 97 pages
ISBN: 978-2-9531508-0-3

Getting to the bottom of things requires stamina and focus. The medium for this process is crucial in distilling the essence of the pursuit, and when it comes to music, words often pave the way to penetrating its whys and wherefores. But because words can act as musical entities themselves, words and music have a unique bond. What both imply can fit into the narrowness of definition or explode into the breadth of a spiritual universality, simultaneously. It is simply a matter of point of view.

Pianist Matthew Shipp has produced a manifesto of sorts to contextualize the music he makes and the person he is, a venture he mounted with poet and longtime friend Steve Dalachinsky. The transcript of their discussion, some of Shipp's writings, as well as poetry that Dalachinsky wrote while listening to Shipp play constitute a book issued in 2008 by Rogue Art entitled Logos and Language: A Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue.

This book is not about jazz; it is about how the creation of musical language is inseparable from everything else. To grasp the heart of the book, the reader needs to absorb the meaning of the "Logos Chart" (designed by Shipp) which appears on the first page. This chart is simple, encapsulating both the book's total thrust and the entirety of Shipp's cosmogony: universal mind intercepts and becomes human reasoning and expression, which intercepts and becomes the infinite.

To interpret Shipp's cosmogony is hazardous; to align with it is mandatory. The point of verbalizing Shipp's musical language is to create a reference. Going back to read the book is similar to, but not the same as, listening to a recording of his music. Every time the reader returns, something new will come forth. Every time the reader returns, the closer the dissolution of the constrictions of language.

In his discussion with Shipp, Dalachinsky offers springboards for the musician to elaborate on specific evidence that supports his beliefs. There is no subject that Dalachinsky mentions that does not trigger fervent responses from Shipp.

The poet initiates the conversation with a description of the park the two are sitting in and, with that, the concept of nature becomes the metaphorical backdrop for plugging into Shipp's creativity. The dialog moves through one idea after another in a constant flow: from invisible connections between the physical and the ethereal, on to biology, musicians, religious belief systems, mysticism, the Bible and life - to cite only some of the threads in their consideration of universality. At times, the discussion breaks into humorous digressions—digressions intended, ironically enough, to straighten out confusion in the two-way communication.

Placed at the end of the book, three pieces of Shipp's writings serve to peel other layers away from the mystery that feeds his music. He writes on the concepts of "flow" and the genetics of mind; he even analogizes boxing to improvisation.

Dalachinsky's poetry provides another verbal frame for perceiving Shipp's music. One poem carries an essential message: ..."if you're gonna tell what the music is talking about say what the music is saying say that the music has something to say that it's telling a story even if you gotta search your imagination..." Indeed.

This book does not pretend to be a substitute for (or to explain) Shipp's music. This book links his music to readily accessible points of view through words and pictures. This book provides a means for minds to converge. This book is a means to everything else.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Good Morning Blues Book Reviews Good Morning Blues
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: January 11, 2018
Read The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums Book Reviews The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums
by Roger Crane
Published: December 19, 2017
Read Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017
Read "The Art of Conduction" Book Reviews The Art of Conduction
by Riccardo Brazzale
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "I Scare Myself by Dan Hicks" Book Reviews I Scare Myself by Dan Hicks
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Beyond Words by John Prine" Book Reviews Beyond Words by John Prine
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Nothing but Love in God's Water by Robert Darden" Book Reviews Nothing but Love in God's Water by Robert Darden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965" Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017