Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

167

Matthew Shipp Quartet with Paul Dunmall: London, September 8, 2011

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp Quartet with Paul Dunmall
The Vortex
London
September 8, 2011

For a growing number of American improvisers, London is becoming a home away from home. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is on record as saying how much he enjoys communing with the capital's finest, and reedmen Ken Vandermark and Joe McPhee have both become regular visitors over the last three years. But at the forefront of the trend is pianist Matthew Shipp, thanks to his connection with Spring Heel Jack, which resulted in Masses (2001) and Amassed (2002) appearing on the Thirsty Ear label's Blue Series that the pianist curates.

His latest sojourn comprised a two night residency at north London's Vortex in different combinations. Having reprised his duet with Evan Parker the evening before (documented on Abbey Road Duos (Treader, 2007) and also in the spotlight at the 2011 Vision Festival), the night was also a reunion of sorts. Shipp shares a manager with British reed master Paul Dunmall, so the pair revisited the original link made in a previous Shipp residency at Cafe Oto in 2009, with bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders along for the ride. That meeting was so successful that a tour was mooted, which sadly didn't come off, but at last here was the follow up.

Even though the American is widely recognized as one of the preeminent pianists of his generation, affirmed on Art Of The Improviser (Thirsty Ear, 2011), the most recent in a string of outstanding releases, this was no star with sidemen date. It helped that his colleagues were stellar improvisers themselves. Over the course of two sets they exhibited all the virtues of free jazz: powerhouse collective blowing; big ears and speedy reactions; a shared lexicon derived from the source material of Albert Ayler and John Coltrane; and of course, a willingness to go beyond the norms. Together they traversed a rolling sequence of visceral highs, keeping the packed audience's rapt attention.

Shipp fully integrated himself into the ensemble, sometimes selflessly fanning Dunmall's flames with resounding chordal undercurrents, on occasion sitting out completely. At other times he inserted and even imposed his insistent motifs and characteristic bass-register thunder, pounding with the flats and heels of his hands in ways which conjured cohesion from thin air, creating a substructure that the others could play against. But it wasn't all hurricane force. In between the peaks, Shipp delicately swiped at the keyboard, his fingers prancing and extracting fragments of melody, repeated until they took on an obsessive depth, ready to fuel the next raucous group colloquy.

From left: Paul Dunmall, John Edwards


Dunmall proved to be particularly inspired on both tenor and soprano saxophones: already the go-to guy for visiting avant-gardists wanting top drawer interaction (including McPhee, bassist Henry Grimes, drummer Shoji Hano) the saxophonist dug deep into his free jazz bag and came up with a winner every time, avoiding cliché and never screaming gratuitously. Typically he played a phrase, paused as if considering whether he had achieved what he intended, then added another, building cumulatively with slowly unfolding lines until spewing thick gobbets of sound. Although he used the full range of expression—stentorian bellows, squeals, whistles, keypad popping—they were incorporated sparingly, yielding gravitas and excitement at the same time in his keenly arching abstractions.

Even though the ensembles tended towards density, that didn't quite mask some astounding timbral detail. Edwards, as ever, ran a marathon on bass, playing with the utmost physicality. His solo spots married percussive and melodic arguments in a panoply of ear-grabbing textures, utilizing whatever technique seemed appropriate, as when he threaded his bow through the strings, adding twanging overtones to his rhythmic plucking. Sanders' features were a continuation of his approach throughout: energy channeled through constantly varied tuned drum and cymbal patterns, but then also morphing into quieter sections with texture to the fore, as shown by his use of devices such as a wooden block with small cymbals, placed on the skin of his floor tom to modulate and alter the vibration.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Thesis

Thesis

Matthew Shipp
Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...

4D

4D

Matthew Shipp
4D

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sonic Fiction

Sonic Fiction

ESP Disk
2018

buy
Symbol Systems

Symbol Systems

Hatology
2018

buy
Zero

Zero

ESP Disk
2018

buy
Magnetism(s)

Magnetism(s)

Rogue Art
2017

buy
Date Detail Price
Feb25Mon
7:30 pm
Matthew Shipp Trio
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
New York, NY

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "48th Annual Pitt Jazz Seminar" Live Reviews 48th Annual Pitt Jazz Seminar
by Mackenzie Horne
Published: November 18, 2018
Read "Jazzkaar 2018" Live Reviews Jazzkaar 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: July 24, 2018
Read "Madeleine Peyroux At Freight & Salvage" Live Reviews Madeleine Peyroux At Freight & Salvage
by Walter Atkins
Published: May 25, 2018