AMN Interviews: Matthew Shipp

mjfest2_danaudainMatthew Shipp is a jazz pianist and composer, who has been very active for over twenty years, appearing on dozens of albums as a leader, sideman or producer. Initially known for free jazz, he has since explored contemporary classical and electronica. Shipp was a long-time member of saxophonist David S. Ware‘s quartet. He has recorded or performed with many musicians, including William Parker, DJ Spooky, Joe Morris, Daniel Carter, Roscoe Mitchell, and Mat Maneri.

Your music is just not amenable to labels, such as free jazz or avant-garde, but people need some sort of reference point from which to describe what you do. Do you use any particular terms when describing your own music, or is all this terminology in music too restrictive?

I am into the Duke Ellington idea that there are two types of music – good and bad – but labels are necessary so people can talk about what you do. If there is a label I kind of like for what I do it might be cosmic musician. I look at someone like Coltrane as a musician who constructed a whole body of work with a cosmic theme to it. I like to think of myself in that way also and see each CD as the construction of a different energy system or cosmos of sorts, so I guess cosmic musician is the label of all labels I like the best. Each CD of sort is a globe or a sphere generated from the singularity that is the concept of that particular CD – so the big bang of that particular CD generates that CD’s space and time.

Do you think it is reasonable for people to use these terms to refer to your music if the the goal is to indicate that you go beyond the mainstream?

I don’t know if the goal is to go beyond the mainstream. The goal, if there is a goal, is to construct that particular sound object – a CD or a concert. I am naive enough to think if I like it, the mainstream will like it – I still hold out hope. I abhor genre type of cliches, so I guess in that way I am trying to go beyond the mainstream. But to me at least my DNA is that of a jazz musician. So, I am naive enough to think everyone else can experience my work that way.

Your run-ins with Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch are becoming the stuff of legend, but can you describe your main ideological differences between yourself and those gentlemen?

I really have no problem with Wynton He is not making “pronouncements” these days, and I assume he has matured and grown up over the years and most likely has a better perspective of things. That is an assumption on my part. Crouch on the other hand is a horses ass. I know him and have dealt with him and I think he is a truly evil person. There are no ideological differences with him for he has no ideas. He is a pure opportunist in my opinion. To have an ideological disagreement presupposes someone has some principals of some sort. To me, Stanley is completely empty of ideas, principals or a soul.

Can you describe your relationship with David S. Ware and how it evolved over time?

David S. Ware was not only a band leader of a band I was in, but also a close personal friend who I shared a lot of traits with, though we are very different beings. First of all, we really understood each other on a very deep level. Seems like our lives where geared such that it was destiny that we come together in the way we did. We both had simialr religious backgrounds in that we grew up christian, but gravitated to eastern religions early on. And we both had the same approach of taking our religious backgrounds and modulating that to a quest with the music, ala what I said about coltrane being a cosmic musician. David and I even had the same taste in so called straight ahead jazz. We liked the same Rollins, Bud Powell, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk CDs, etc., etc. We both had the same love of fighting sports, pro wrestling, UFC, though he was not as big of a boxing fan as I am, but he knew what was going on. Anyway, all that is to say we where kindred souls who shared a lot. We had such an instinctive understanding of each other that it scared me sometimes. That was there from the first time we got together. In fact after the first time we played he looked at me and said we have know each other in other lives.

It is easy for a listener to ignore the titles of tracks when listening to instrumental music. But with your releases, are they missing out on part of your message?

The titles of my CDs do tell a story. Each cd is a cosmic, sci-fi myth of sorts – a cosmos – a universe until itself. Maybe the storyteller behind the myths are some weird mad scientist, or maybe an alien of sort. I have always been influenced by the movie with David Bowie, the Man Who Fell to Earth. But yeah, the titles point to a sci-fi type of mystic constructivist point of view that is in tune with the myth that the music is trying to portray.

What have you been listening to recently, and does it relate to your own music?

I have not been listening to that much music lately, but things I have put in the CD player recently are: John Butcher. Monk’s Straight No Chaser, Gamelan music, pigmy music, Glenn Gould playing some Bach, English Suites… Everything you hear and take in relates to you in some way – in ways that you might not be able to delineate in language.

You continue to be very active – what are your release and performance plans for 2014?

In 2014, my trio CD Root of Things that just came out, another duo with Darius Jones, two Ivo Perelman CD – one is a trio with me, Ivo, and William Parker, another is a quartet with my trio plus Ivo, and a couple other projects as a member of the Jeff Cosgrove Group and a guest with the Core Trio.

Five questions for Lina Allemano

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Lina Allemano, Barry Elmes Sextet
Lina Allemano

Toronto trumpeter Lina Allemano is one of Canada’s most steadfast and consistent voices when it comes to bringing original free-jazz-based music into the world. This month and next, she’s especially busy, with gigs at Montreal’s Resonance Cafe and Ottawa’s GigSpace this weekend followed by more than a dozen gigs in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium and Turkey in late March and next month, thanks to support from the Canada Council for the Arts. On most of these gigs, Allemano will be playing with her group that includes alto saxophonist Brodie West, bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Nick Fraser.

Free Jazz Blog Reviews

From Free Jazz:

Peter Kowald
Cover of Peter Kowald

JASS – self titled (Yolk Records, 2014) *****
SSS-Q – Songs From My Backyard (WasserBassin, 2013) ****
Roscoe Mitchell, Tony Marsh, John Edwards – Improvisations (Otoroku, 2013)
Marco Eneidi, Joe Morris & Luther Gray – Outpost Live (Boticelli Records, 2013)
Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer & Bill Elgar – Give No Quarter (Evil Rabbit, 2013)
Christoph Irniger Trio – Gowanus Canal (Intakt, 2013)
Saka – Cementen (Stone Floor, 2012)
The Curators – Heavy Metal Spartacus & Thank You (Engine, 2013)
Peter Friis Nielsen Kalas – Himlen Under Os (Barefoot Records, 2013)
Gianni Gebbia, Peter Kowald & Gunther Sommer – Cappuccini Klang 2 – the unissued tapes 1992 (Objet-A, 2013)
Dan Kinzelman, Joe Rehmer, Stefano Tamborrino – Hobby Horse – Eponymous (Parco Della Musica, 2013)
Peter Stock Trio – Pst & Zwo (Bandcamp, 2013)
The Impossible – The Impossible (Bandcamp, 2013)
Jonathan Moritz’ Secret Tempo (Hot Cup, 2013)
Mike Davis – Fortunes And Hat-Tricks- Vol. 1 (Tmpf, 2013)
Re.mus (Fundacja Kaisera Söze, 2013)
Erase – New And Old Dreams (ForTune, 2013)
Peter Ehwald – Double Trouble (Jazzwerkstatt, 2013)
Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, Tony Marsh, John Edwards, John Butcher – Quintet-Sextet (Otoroku, 2013) ****
Anna Kaluza, Artur Majewski, Rafal Mazur, Kuba Suchar – Tone Hunting (Clean Feed, 2013) ****
Cassiber: The Cassiber Box (ReR, 2013) ****
William Parker: Wood Flute Songs (AUM, 2013) *****
Samuel Blaser Consort In Motion – A Mirror To Machaut (Songlines,2013) ****½
Adriana Sá, John Klima & Tó Trips – Timespine (Shhpuma,2013) ****

AMN Picks of the Week: Machine Mass with Dave Liebman / Hersch / Mantovani / Stroppa / Dorge, Westergaard, Sorey / Blanton

English: Tyshawn Sorey at moers festival 2010

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Machine Mass / Dave Liebman – Inti (2014)
Michael Hersch / Blair String Quartet – Images from a Closed Ward (2014)
Bruno Mantovani – Six Pieces for Orchestra (2014)
Marco Stroppa – Upon a Blade of Grass (2014)
Pierre Dorge / Torben Westergaard / Tyshawn Sorey – Like Salamanders We Survive (2014)
Tyler Blanton – Gotham (2014)

AMN Reviews: Colin Edwin & Lorenzo Feliciati – Twinscapes (Rare Noise Records)

In no way meant to diminish the accomplishment of Messrs. Edwin and Feliciati, this is the best Bill Laswell record in ages. For people, that is, who harbour a particular affection for his Sacred System and Automaton recordings. Twinscapes has a close, 21st-century affinity with those projects and those sounds.

Colin Edwin
Colin Edwin

That being said, bassists Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree and Rare Noise´s Metallic Taste of Blood and Lorenzo Feliciati of the same label´s Naked Truth are hardly epigones. Edwin claims to have long wanted to do something with another bass player, and after meeting Feliciati at a live gig in London in March of last year, he finally found the right fit. The duo brought in trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær, saxophonist David Jackson (of Van der Graaf Generator), percussionist Andi Pupato and drummer Roberto Gualdi for a dub jazz recording session of the highest water. As he often is, Laswell is credited with “mix translation”, though it sounds like he “merely” produced the record as opposed to structuring it, which the term usually indicates. Edwin and Feliciati, for their part, man a lot of other posts as well, including keyboards, guitars, “space station” and “superego”.

Rare Noise puts a premium on artists with a heavy groove that rumbles like a bowling ball in your pelvic bowl. The muscular ambient fundament out of which Edwin and Feliciati growl on opening track “Shaken” flows smooth and dark like magma. Along with “In Dreamland,” “Breathsketch”, and the dreamy “Transparent” and “Sparse”, both featuring a spectacularly understated Molvær, it establishes the easy but darkling dub mood that dominates Twinscapes. There´s spooky black magic in Jackson´s ragged voodoo showcase “I-Dea”. After the secret agent dance “Conspiracy” and clash of pointillistic near-calypso and guitar-shredding on “Perfect Tool”, the quietly interstellar “Yügen” seeps out of the speakers and bounces off the points of stars on the tips of Pupato´s drumsticks, before an amicable jam deceptively named “Solos” drifts away with us.

Stephen Fruitman

This Week at the ISSUE Project Room

From the ISSUE Project Room:

Charles Gayle
Cover of Charles Gayle

WED, MARCH 12, 2014 – 6:00PM
Representing NYC: Young People / Mantra Percussion / Charles Gayle / The Oracle DJs

An evening of innovative performance by New Yorkers ages 5 to 75 celebrates creative youth, featuring students from Bushwick’s Arts and Literacy after school program. Saxophonist Charles Gayle performs a live solo set in response to youth art and performances, Mantra Percussion present a new structured improvisation inspired by student-made field recordings, and Nuit Blanche and ESP TV facilitate live projections from collages developed by students. The Oracle Djs— AKA Sam Hillmer, founder of Representing NYC— spins world bass and regional American dance music.

FRI, MARCH 14, 2014 – 8:00PM
Alan Licht & Brian Chase
Mary Halvorson & Joe Morris
Brought together by mutual interests in free improvisation and long-form explorations of sonic density, guitarist Alan Licht and percussionist Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) have been playing as a duo for the last several years. Tonight they celebrate the release of their debut album, We Thought We Could Do Anything (New Images). Outstanding improvisors, bandleaders and guitarists Mary Halvorson and Joe Morris, who have collaborated since 2002, perform duo.

FRI, MARCH 21 – 8:00PM
Coppice / Anne Guthrie & Richard Kamerman

MON, MARCH 24 – 6:30PM
Benefit for 3 Operas by Robert Ashley at the 2014 Whitney Biennial

WED, MARCH 26 – 8:00PM
Chris Brown, Suzanne Thorpe, Nate Wooley trio
Alexandra Gardner

THU, MARCH 27, – 8:00PM
String Theories: Eli Keszler, Catherine Lamb, Zach Layton, & Doron Sadja