Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

414

Matthew Shipp at Cafe Oto, London

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp/Paul Dunmall/John Edwards/Mark Sanders
Cafe Oto
London
February 12, 2010

At first glance the opening night of New York City-based pianist Matthew Shipp's three-day residency at north London's Cafe Oto promised a fire music spectacular. Lined up to appear alongside him were three of the UK's leading improvisors in reedman Paul Dunmall, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Mark Sanders, all of whom are eminently comfortable at the burning pole of the improvised music compass.

A plethora of acclaimed recordings, of which his solo 4D (Thirsty Ear, 2010) is just the latest installment, confirms Shipp's place as one of the premier modern piano stylists. Unusually for someone with such a glittering track record as leader he has also held down long-term berths in David S. Ware's classic quartet, routinely hailed as the preeminent contemporary small group, and with the more esoteric groupings of esteemed AACM guru Roscoe Mitchell. At the same time the pianist also rejoices in spontaneously improvised settings where his distinctive approach forges structure even from unfamiliar components, and that was the ground populated this evening.

No strangers to the milieu or one another, his partners equated to much more than a pick-up band. This was a meeting of peers. Long recognized as one of the UK's most accomplished reedmen, Dunmall is now picking up regular accolades in the US as well as Europe. Bassist of choice for virtually every visiting improvisor, Edwards has few equals with his full tone and energetic approach. Though not nearly so ubiquitous on drums, Sanders' resume nonetheless includes Evan Parker, Ken Vandermark, Charles Gayle, Leo Smith and Alexander Hawkins, as well as left- field rock gigs with Jah Wobble.

Though Dunmall and Shipp were ranged at the two extremes of stage, silhouetted against Café Oto's habitual minimalist stage lighting, they were on exactly the same wavelength musically. Shipp's tender lyrical shoots at the start of the first set quickly gained choppy rhythmic nourishment from Edwards and Sanders, prompting the reedman to join with measured staccato phrases. Before long all four were flying in a smoldering free jazz firestorm germinated seamlessly from their initial musings. Such cohesive communal episodes were commonplace over their two sets, totaling some 80 minutes, though opportunities nonetheless organically emerged from the fluent give and take to explore almost all the possibilities inherent within the foursome.

By way of counterbalance to his sometimes controversial statements reported in the press, on the bandstand Shipp proved selfless in his participation, judging what worked for the group, pitching himself sometimes as lead voice and at others in a supportive role. Calling on his years with Ware, the pianist knew just how to fuel the group furnace. His crashing repetitions and pealing fortissimo clusters propelled the band ever upwards. Once the ecstatic climaxes crested and the energy dissipated, Shipp's streaming crystalline runs over emphatic comping heightened the connections to another jazz tradition, some of the patterns even hinting at various Shipp compositions.

There was great synergy between Shipp and Edwards, testament to their shared fondness for rhythmic declamation, and revelatory instances abounded, as when the American's cat on a hot tin roof treble register prancing accelerated to match pace in response to Edward's rapid sawing. Later hammered two-handed piano crescendos punctuated the bassist's high cello like arco to winning effect. Then in one of the most striking examples of their interplay, the pianist adroitly meshed his rhythmic patterning with Edwards' pizzicato in a startling series of locomotive eighth notes, presently subjected to inevitable quick fire variation and dissonance by Shipp.



It was not difficult to hear why the bassman is in such demand. His ensemble play was hugely imaginative and responsive while his solos effortlessly maintained impetus. In one feature, quavering scrapes evoking creaking doors were interspersed with explosive bursts of percussive banging and grinding. An eruption of shrill squeaks, taps, and rasps drew a matching rejoinder from Sanders, signaling the transition back into group territory. Here Edwards also manifested his worth, helping to shape the flow, redirecting energies with ripe melodic constructions or fierce invigorating bowing.


Related Video

Shop

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

More Articles

Read Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center Live Reviews Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center
by David Becker
Published: January 24, 2017
Read ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017 Live Reviews ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 22, 2017
Read An Evening with Pat Metheny at The Barre Opera House Live Reviews An Evening with Pat Metheny at The Barre Opera House
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2017
Read Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina Live Reviews Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 10, 2017
Read Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016 Live Reviews Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Beale Street Music Festival 2016" Live Reviews Beale Street Music Festival 2016
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Jazzkaar 2016" Live Reviews Jazzkaar 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: May 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!