and William Parker
are in a space which they arrived at more or less together. The pair first recorded together with the quartet on David S. Ware
's Great Bliss, Vol. 1
(Silkheart, 1991). Not long afterwards, in 1994, they released Zo
, the first of their duo projects, on the now-defunct Rise label; it was reissued on Thirsty Ear in 2016 during Shipp's tenure as the label's artistic director. In a compact setting, that early effort allowed listeners a fuller appreciation of each artist's skills. Almost three decades on, the pair have recorded dozens of albums together in a wide variety of formations. Re-Union
marks their third duo project. It is a fully-improvised session, recorded in a French studio in 2019. The album opens with the epic-length title track. At over twenty minutes, it is classic Shipp, with elements of free improvisation, off-kilter Duke Ellington
-esque, and classical influences. Parker's playing is immersed in bop fundamentalism, permeated with melody and energy. On "The New Zo," Shipp and Parker close in on an unknowable target, thundering, and tenaciously hang on. The duo reference their album DNA
(Thirsty Ear, 1999) with "Further DNA." Unsurprisingly, like its predecessor, it is full of twists and turns which can only be interpreted by listening. The album closes with "Song of Two," a joy ride of improvisation which finishes with a stylish, edgy, back-and-forth between the piano and bass.
Where divergence is the norm, Shipp and Parker demonstrate that they can step into their ancestors' shoes but walk a completely undiscovered road. Their music is an act of resistance in a time when it is needed. Their signature combination of lyricism and atonality on Re-Union
will undoubtedly draw comparisons which belie how unique their sound is. Shipp and Parker have an inexhaustible wealth of ideas and they continue to push lines of lucidity and detachment which add to a unique lexicon of creative music.
Re-Union; The New Zo; Further DNA; Song of Two.