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Time Is of the Essence: Is Beyond Time

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Album Review

This live show from December of 1997 with the truly acrobatic Other Dimensions in Music group with Matthew Shipp guesting is American improvisational jazz at its best. The sheer musicality inherent in the band's front line of Daniel Carter and Roy Campbell, Jr. is so multidimensional it puts the European "tonal explorers" to shame. Make no mistake — this is a jazz band. That everything they do is improvisation burns down the false wall imposed the English and the Europeans that freely improvised music could be somehow separated by genres and continents. One listen to this group and you'll see that both Franz Koglmann and Evan Parker are just plain wrong. Traditions are not exercised here, they may be referred to in passing — they may even be revered by individual participants — but their practice has no place within the quintet's performance. Already Shipp was a powerhouse, moving out from under the shadow of Cecil Taylor and into his own light full of tonal and harmonic ideas that crisscrossed the musical spectrum seeking release in a larger group setting. Carter and Campbell have developed a front-line language between them, whether on reeds or brass or winds. When one speaks, the other speaks in tandem. Carter is especially gifted when it comes to producing microphonics on his saxophones or the flute offering multilevel platforms for either Campbell or Parker to launch from with Shipp covering all the middle space with outrageous shapes and colors. Campbell smatters his lines over the edges. Taking the lead, he only finds himself in deep dialogue with Parker, who calls up the all-pervasive spirit of eternal rhythm from Baker. Melodic invention tattoos invertible modalities and overtonal currents in the exchanges between Shipp and Carter. Parker keeps raising the bar to include angular polyrhythms and bassed-out harmonic ideas from Campbell Jr. and himself. When the swinging post-mod boplicity of Ornette Coleman's voice winds its way through the fifth section, it becomes the hinge for a new exploration in texture and changing time signatures as the pace becomes all but impossible to keep. All too quickly the music ends, giving itself over to the same place in silence it emerged from. For the listener, 66 minutes is all too brief a period to be engulfed in this ecstatic world of discovery and challenge. You're left wanting more, and all you have to do is hit play again to be immersed once more.


Born: December 7, 1960 in Wilmington, DE

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

With his unique and recognizable style, pianist Matthew Shipp worked and recorded vigorously from the late '80s onward, creating music in which free jazz and modern classical intertwined. He first became well known in the early '90s as the pianist in the David S. Ware Quartet, and soon began leading his own dates — most often including Ware bandmate and leading bassist William Parker — and recording a number of duets with a variety of musicians, from the legendary Roscoe Mitchell to violinist...
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Time Is of the Essence: Is Beyond Time, Matthew Shipp
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