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11

Shipp / Lowe / Baker / Ray at Le Poisson Rouge

Karl Ackermann By

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The Show

Shipp/Lowe/Baker/Ray performed four spontaneously improvised and untitled pieces over the course of approximately ninety minutes. With the exception of Lowe's introductions of the members, the music was uninterrupted. Ray opened the set with a bass solo before the rest of the group jumped in, quickly ratcheting up the intensity. About twenty minutes in, the quartet settled down to some gentler solo time, the group rejoinder momentarily taking on an ethereal air. Baker's brilliant solo began the second piece and the overall feeling was loose and free. Lowe's saxophone alternated between viscous and subtle and Shipp alternated nuance with thundering grooves and scorching improvisations. Ray again led in the third number, this time with a beautiful extended solo on a piece that had him alternating between plucking and the bow. The closer features Lowe's brief initial solo which morphed into a duet with Shipp. Here, Baker demonstrated that no part of the drum kit is off limits as he tapped, rapped and turned loose waves of sound.

There is not a method that this quartet hasn't long mastered but technique did not overshadow musicality in this show. While there were moments of obsidian forcefulness, these were welcome as a balance to some amazingly sophisticated and measured free improvisation. These accomplished and imaginative musicians have not been working together for long (in Baker's case, not at all) so it is a testament to their understanding of subtleties and their overall musical experience that made this Le Poisson Rouge performance a remarkable outing. The group—presumably with Cleaver on drums—is likely to offer some recorded music in the future. Let's hope that is the case.

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