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As the curator of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, Matthew Shipp has rejected categorization, using his position to shape a musical future in his own vision, intermingling familiar players from the jazz avant-garde with turntablists, classical musicians and electronic soundscapers. The outcome has rarely been more coherent and listenable than on his own recordings, peaking with Equilibrium from last year. Harmony and Abyss continues Shipp's effort to make it new. The music on this CD benefits from its familiarity, as if all of Shipp's influences are coming together in an original mixturethe repeated classically-inspired piano phrases of "Ion" and "New ID"; producer Chris Flam's programmed beats; Shipp and Flam's synthesizer accents; Gerald Cleaver's hip-hop drumming; William Parker's low-end anchor. This is spacey, heady stuffmusic to do equations byand the longer tracks get the time they need to develop. "Blood 2 the Brain" proceeds for six minutes with Parker's persistent riffing, Shipp's minor chords and Flam's tape loops and "Amino Acid" offers hand drumming, galloping hooves and what sounds in the background to be a gathering storm. These tracks burrow into your subconscious.
Shipp/Parker/Brown The Trio Plays Ware Splasc(h) 2004
The music Matthew Shipp has made with the David S. Ware Quartet bypasses the mind and goes straight for the spirit. What Shipp and Parker share with Ware is a commitment to something greater, nothing short of transcendence, that can best be reached through music. Current quartet drummer Guillermo E. Brown joins the pianist and bassist to perform the leader's music without that indelible tenor saxophone and the results are startling. You keep waiting for Ware to burst in, but he doesn't, and you're left with Shipp's densely barometric piano, Parker's stirring contrabass and Brown's structural drumming. "Godspelized" is apocalyptic. "Reign of Peace" is tranquil. "Dao Forms" is conversational. "Mystic March" is relentless. And so it goes. The pieces here move you to the point where you don't want them to end, and then you almost can't bear to go on. If that sounds like an overstatement, you don't know the music of David S. Ware.
Harmony and Abyss
Personnel: Gerald Cleaver: Drums; FLAM: Synthesizer, Programming; William Parker: Bass; Matthew Shipp: Piano. Tracks: Ion; New ID; 3 in 1; Virgin Complex; Galaxy 105; String Theory; Blood 2 The Brain; Invisible Light; Amino Acid; Abyss.
The Trio Plays Ware Personnel: Guillermo E. Brown: Percusssion; William Parker: Bass; Matthew Shipp: Piano. Tracks: 1. Manu's Ideal (5:31); 2. Godpelized (6:56); 3. Dinosauria (4:49); 4. Lexicon (8:28); 5. Reign Of Peace (5:09); 6. Wisodm Through Time (4:36); 7. Dao Forms (8:33); 8. Mystic March (7:53).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.