When multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter
, bassist William Parker
and pianist Matthew Shipp
met for an esoteric evening of discussion and music at Tufts University in 2017, the net result was Seraphic Light
(AUM Fidelity, 2018). That three-part improvised program was one of the best free improvisation albums of the year. On Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1
, the trio expands to a quartet with the addition of drummer Gerald Cleaver
. The new formation brings with it a sound different from the first excursion.
Carter has not received the recognition due to him, despite thirty years in New York's downtown scene, playing with some of the best musicians in creative music. His history with Parker and Shipp dates back decades. Carter played six wind instruments on Seraphic Light
, often in tone-altering sequences. On Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1
he focuses on his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone, as well as trumpet and flute. Along with the presence of Cleaver, the dynamics move from free-flowing expressiveness to a more visceral sound.
The album opens with the thirteen-minute "Majestic Travel Agency." Among Shipp's experiments has been moving hard-bop into a new direction, an approach he and Parker demonstrated on Nu Bop
(Thirsty Ear, 2002). Here, the tactic is enhanced by Carter's thoughtful flowing lines and blues shadings. He and Shipp occasionally engage in give-and-take until Parker switches to bowed bass, and the piece heads to a more ethereal place. The relatively brief "Scintillate" is a beautifully reflective piece, featuring Carter on trumpet, elegantly interacting with Shipp. The twenty-minute closing number, "Ear-regularities," is the freest playing without going over the top. In brief cells, the interactions between Parker and Cleaver are intriguing as are the other combinations from the quartet.
This leaderless group was excellent in their trio format debut, and they surpass that high bar on Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1
. The music is, by turns, jubilant, muted, intelligent; the quartet, with all their history of connectivity, manage to be empathetic without formulas. Shipp, Parker, and Carter come to the project with a wealth of harmonic skills generously shared and exchanged. Cleaver, in a class with the best avant-garde drummers, contributes in ways that can't be overstated. He doesn't just move the music and hold it together, he generates and creates spontaneously. There is much about Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1
that registers on an emotional level. Volume 2 promises to be just as welcome.
Majestic Travel Agency; Scintillate; Ear-regularities.
Daniel Carter: trumpet, flute.