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Keef Destefano began spinning records at the age of 13. Now, as DJ Wally, his sounds saturate the New York dance underground. His first headlining session, Nothing Stays the Same, becomes the latest Matthew Shipp/Thirsty Ear All-Star collaboration to gracefully wed jazz, hip hop and techno. As his nom de spin implies, DJ Wally comes fully equipped with a surreal sense of humor.
Australian expatriate Peter Gordon, classically trained since the age of 7, dominates the recording with inexhaustible flute solos. Other soloists often appear filtered or blunted, their contributions floating through the mix.
“Hello” features Gordon emerging from a swirl of electronic sound, giving way to “A Day In the Life,” a hard funk groove that offers Daniel Carter some space on alto, Gordon flying alongside. The title track employs brisk jungle rhythms with the flautist keeping pace.
Opening to sampled applause, “Thirsty Thrills” serves up some tasty Khan Jamal vibes with William Parker and Guillermo Brown metering out the time. Wally takes over the rhythm with dense chording by Shipp, then Parker and Brown return to pace Jamal. Alto flute and tropical percussion lead the brief “Lessons Learned,” then David S. Ware adds murky, muted, compressed tones to “A Night in Savannah.” Gordon contributes lilting flute lines.
“Out of the Blue” chugs along on Brown’s brush work and some whirly piano from Shipp, Gordon sailing above the fray. Wally again cues the applause track. “Shipp Solo (Interlude)” features some ten fingered attacks from his past, then “Paint by Number” turns Parker loose with electronic effects going off all around. Brown plays his polyrhythmic best and Jamal simmers under the samples. A highly processed Carter alto sears through the mix with more applause greeting him.
“Shaken” could be “Lessons Learned, pt 2,” while “I Spy” opens to launching jets before settling into a medium tempo workout for Gordon. “A-Plus” brings back Jamal buried under burbling body function sounds; Shipp joins on what sounds like tack piano. “Medley” lumbers out the gate with a flurry of samples that end the collection.
With the instruments and cuts more intertwined than earlier collaborations with DJ Spooky, the question of whether it's live or sampled becomes an even deeper riddle, but the playing of Gordon and company make this a pleasure to ponder.
Track Listing: Hello; A Day in the Life; Nothing Stays the Same; Thirsty Thrills; Lessons Learned; A Night in Savannah; Out of the Blue; Shipp Solo; Paint by Number; Shaken; I Spy; Maybe Just One; A-Plus; Medley.
Personnel: Guillermo E. Brown, drums; Daniel Carter, reeds; Keef Destefano, samples; Peter Gordon, electric and acoustic flute; Khan Jamal, vibes; William Parker, bass; Matthew Shipp, piano; David S. Ware, saxophone.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.