Friday, April 14, 2006
Super Friday - jazz returns...plus... Ornette Coleman... Matthew Shipp... Cecil Taylor...
Some mp3's... a slight return for the jazz... one for Anthony: Ornette and co on 'Brings Goodness,' the Matthew Shipp Trio doing 'Circular Temple #1.' Plus – Cecil Taylor and his crew playing the title track from one of my favourite albums, 'Conquistador.' I just noticed that I put up the alternate take now released on cd for 'With(exit)' from this album in the winter and called it music of blood and fire. Yep, that's about it...
The Ornette is from a 1960 session – the old firm of Cherry and Haden with my favourite drummer behind this music – Ed Blackwell (although Denardo is pretty damn good – I was impressed when I saw him with his dad in concert last year). A typically abrupt yet serpentine head – Ornette solos over the firm bass of Haden and at first strangely muted Blackwell – who gets into the action as the solo progresses with sharp interjections and a more interactive role. A happy sounding Ornette – who can sometimes sound on the edge of deep sorrow - followed by Cherry – who always sounds, well, cheery. That dancing lightness of tone which is endemic to the smaller horn – then Haden – playing pretty much four on the floor walking bass until the end of his brief solo with a couple of descending triplet figures that suspend the rhythm neatly. Then the usual brief reprise of theme.
Matthew Shipp' 'Circular Temple #1' opens with ominous, dark chords, arco bass squalling over out of time drums – rippling cymbals and tomtom rolls. Deep register stuff, split by the ring of the cymbals. Fast bass intertwining with low register piano. Arco bass surfaces briefly – then a succession of chords, like someone labouring up a steep track and the bass again as the piano comes up the register slightly- spinning faster single note lines briefly before returning to two-handed dense chording, banging away on the left hand side of the keyboard. A couple of chords to end in almost desultory fashion. A murky track keeping the registers way down – the only treble you will hear is when the bass is bowed in a couple of upward squalls, the ring of the cymbals and very rare forays into the treble on the piano. Very much a trio performance – the piano is not the lead instrument but part of a democracy of three. Powerful and moody.
Shipp – like Ornette, who many years before led the way with electric experimentation and free funk in the seventies with Prime Time – is not content to stay inside the acoustic jazz temple. The last few years he has ventured out into the crowded marketplace, especially with his collaborations and journeys into hip-hop/electro. Not sure what I make of this track, but it represents a more stripped down piano strategy across pre-planned drum beats by Chris Flam. The rolling, dark piano with its stripped-back harmonies reminds me oddly of Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim's township music. Second listening – it grows.
And then along came Cecil...
A ripple of fast piano notes then into a unison stated by the horns – Cecil Taylor, in whatever incarnation always leads from the front, his piano prodding and storming away. Jimmy Lyons opens over Cyrille's immaculate speed drumming and the felt physicality of presence rising from the two basses. Floating across the rhythms at first then starting to dig in, a man who was by now at home in the world of the master – Cecil the Conquistador imperiously sweeping all before him. Fragments of melody played with and tossed back into longer lines, echoed'urged on by that surging piano: the tempo slows as Bill Dixon enters on elegiac long tones, the piano cutting back to allow him the space – the basses come through more clearly here – helped by the contrast of arco squeals and down deep pizzicato. The piano picks it up after Dixon's thoughtful solo and leads the horns as they spell out a unison section. Then Cecil – deep rumbles of notes as Cyrille clatters happily behind him and the basses blur – rising into percussive higher register work – a hint of Monk somewhere in there – then rapid, flying cascades of notes alternated with those hacked out chords. Taylor covers the whole keyboard, scampering up and down, matched by the drummer's cross-rhythms – getting more manic – high energy playing at its most intense before leading back into a brief theme statement then back to piano as the basses step up, playing deep on the piano as the polarised basses – high arco, low pizzicato engage with more speedy piano, dark low register runs bringing the horns back in playing long notes over the pulsing background – the two basses come out on their own – a brief plucked duet until the piano signals the horns back. Brief long tones – then silence. Emotional exhaustion – it's always an intense ride with Taylor.
Like I said: blood and fire.
(Ornette: alto sax; Don Cherry: trumpet; Charlie Haden: bass; Ed Blackwell: drums).
Matthew Shipp Trio
(Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: bass; Whit Dickey: drums).
Circular Temple #1
Matthew Shipp Trio
(Shipp: piano: William Parker: bass; Guillermo H. Brown: drums; Chris Flam(producer): programmed beats).
(Cecil Taylor: piano; Bill Dixon: trumpet: Jimmy Lyons: alto sax; Henry Grimes, Alan Silva: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums).