Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

The Motive Force Behind One of This Past Year’s Best Jazz Albums Plays His Home Turf

One of the great things about the ongoing free jazz series happening on the Lower East Side into the first week of October is that it’s an excuse to give a listen to some of the parade of artists passing through. One particularly good lineup is this Sept 17 in the community garden at 129 Stanton St just east of Essex, starting at 1:30 PM with Steve Swell on trombone, Kirk Knuffke on cornet and TA Thompson on drums. At 2:30 trumpeter Jaimie Branch brings her enveloping sound, followed at 3:30 by bassist Larry Roland’s Urban Project with keyboardist Kiyoko Layne, trumpeter Waldron Ricks and Thompson back on drums. Drummer Whit Dickey and alto saxophonist Rob Brown wind up the afternoon at 4:30.

Dickey also figures prominently in one of the most lustrously gorgeous jazz albums of the past year, Village Mothership – streaming at Spotify – with bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp. It’s a shout-out to the three’s East Village home turf via a methodical, often rather dark series of longscale pieces topping out at about the eleven minute mark.

The bandleader throws off playful cymbal flickers as Parker spaciously holds the center and Shipp quickly grows to his usual Loch Ness glimmer as the first tune, A Thing and Nothing takes shape, rising resolutely and steadily, then falling away to the stygian depths Shipp mines so well. A wry but disquieting descent ensues into a Twilight Zone of the piano. You could call much of the rest of this ten-minute joint Webernian swing.

Whirling in the Void is less a spin than a stern, emphatic, occasionally crushing modal exploration, Dickey and Shipp chopping the weeds in an abandoned East Village tenement foundation of the mind. When Shipp starts spiraling, Dickey’s judicious half-tumbles are there to catch anything that might fall.

Nothingness is not a John Cage piece but a defragged version of the previous number, clusters juxtaposed with gentle scrambles and hints of a famous Steely Dan theme, Parker dexterously maintaining various central pulses and finally percolating to the surface.

Dickey opens the album’s title track with a spare, nuanced, suspenseful solo before Shipp’s modalities drive it further into the obsidian; this time bass and drums switch roles, more or less sparingly, midway through. The album’s biggest thrill ride is Down Void Way, Parker’s frantic bowing above Shipp’s murky turbulence and variations on the album’s most memorably unsettled theme.

The closing number, Nothing and a Thing, is the most loosely tethered piece here, infused with a solemn bluesiness but also sardonic humor. It’s a clinic in the kind of enigmatic moodiness these three can conjure.

September 12, 2022 - Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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