Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Gordon Grdina/Mark Helias/Matthew Shipp: Pathways


Gordon Grdina/Mark Helias/Matthew Shipp: Pathways


Sign in to view read count
Gordon Grdina/Mark Helias/Matthew Shipp: Pathways
Gordon Grdina, guitarist and oud player, has cranked things up into high gear in terms of CD release productivity. This is a good thing. When artists regularly release albums—two to four or five or six a year, which was common during Blue Note Records' heyday in the late 1950s and early 60s—their artistry evolves more quickly. Grdina, at the halfway mark of 2022, has already offered up four albums for the year, an output that has lifted his artistry into the realm of distinctive creativity and excellence. This 2022 journey began with Oddly Enough: The Music Of Tim Berne, a solo affair on the artist's own Attaboygirl Records.

Pathways, another Attaboygirl release, is a trio outing featuring Grdina alongside pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist Mark Helias. All three players boast high profiles in the avant-garde arena. They could be tagged as all-stars, Here, they show no all-star egos. The players meld into a cohesive whole on nine adventurous tunes. Succinct in their way— everything clocks in at the four to eight minute range—with a consistency of mood and purpose, that exudes freedom and risk-taking while embracing accessibility, occasional grooves and a unique approach to interplay.

Free jazz with Middle-Eastern motifs are here, as are loose interludes from Shipp that seem to nod to Cecil Taylor at times, tangled up with Grdina's strikingly pungent, sometimes prickly guitar and oud playing, held together by the glue of Helias' muscular bass. Throw in moments of wildness that avoid anarchy (maybe it is the bass) alongside pensive reveries that delve into deep deliberations.

Shipp is a versatile player with a long record (on record and off) of collaboration. He seems to fit into any ensemble, oftimes not sounding quite Matthew Shipp-like—judged from albums under his own name.

The tunes are all credited, compositionally, to all three players, meaning, almost certainly, that this is a three-way improvisation outing. Sit down and see what happens. Sometimes, no matter the skills and intentions of the players involved, such freewheeling outings swing and miss. This one hits, hard and far. Grdina's year-opening Oddly Enough: The Music Of Tim Berne set off the radar for a spot on the Year's Best Jazz Albums' lists. Pathways, free jazz with a finely-focused vision, raises that flag again, and waves it around.

With the focus of purpose, his cohesion of artistic vision and his drive to put out lots of excellent music that is idiosyncratically his own, Grdina may have what it takes to move into the top spots of jazz guitar players, alongside Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and John Scofield. He is on the young side at this point, but time will tell.


Additional Instrumentation

Gordon Grdina: guitar.

Album information

Title: Pathways | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Attaboygirl Records


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Blue Topaz
Peter Hand
Midnight Rose
Paul Rodgers
Open Me: A Higher Consciousness of Sound and...
Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
Modern Art Trio
Franco D'Andrea, Franco Tonani, Bruno Tommaso.


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.