Matthew Shipp - Rob Brown: Then Now

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Avant Jazz / Free Improvisation / Avant-Garde
premiera polska:
Wydawnicto Audiofilskie

kontynent: Ameryka Północna
kraj: USA
opakowanie: digipackowe etui

Editor's info:
Since their 1988 duo album Sonic Explorations and through a number of group collaborations, the duo of alto saxophonist Rob Brown and pianist Matthew Shipp have extended and evolved their uniquely astute and confident dialog, as heard in this magnificent 8-part studio album, a reflection on their compatibility and perceptive artistry.
What they have lost are the rough edges or, more precisely, they have been able to incorporate them into what they have learned over the past 30 years. The depth of their voices has individually and collectively reached new heights. Although of this album leans toward the "quieter" side, we immediately feel the strength they have gained in each one's very personal language. They both chose and built their own individual path while widening their spectrums, always lifting themselves and others higher, ever higher. They are always engaged with each other, ultimately always surprising us.
Then Now presents a reprise of both pianist Matthew Shipp's and alto saxophonist Rob Brown's debut recording, a duet entitled Sonic Explorations (CJR, 1988). Though they have occasionally collaborated since—last heard together on Magnetism(s) (Rogue Art, 2017) alongside bassist William Parker—this is their first album as a twosome since Blink Of An Eye (No More, 1997). With Shipp so frequently in tandem with Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman, it is almost a shock to hear him in this format in different company.

In the interim the standing of both has grown. One of the reasons Brown is such a remarkable talent is how little he uses repeated motifs to develop his narrative, rather unfolding ideas in a continuously renewing flow. Ally that to a pungent bittersweet tone full of edgy emotion and you have a clue as to why he has been the go to saxophonist for Parker's groups for the last thirty years.

Shipp has become recognized as one of the most distinctive and creative pianists working in avant jazz. In contrast to Brown, reiterations play a major role in the pianist's expression, albeit without defining his entire approach, alternating as he does between rhythmic stomps, thickly voiced runs and delicate bucolic passages, guided by an inscrutable internal logic.

Of the eight cuts, credited to both principals, the dramatic yet restrained "Then Now #5" is a fifty-nine-second solo for Shipp, while Brown is unaccompanied on the angst ridden ballad "Then Now #7." Elsewhere they react to each other's moves in ways more than the sum of the two parts. In "Then Now #3," Shipp maintains an opposition through his switch to staccato accents when Brown turns to undulating ululations, fomenting tension and an uneasy undercurrent. But in "Then Now #4" the pair synchronize, snagging simultaneously on an insistent note before taking separate paths. Just two examples among many of a bountiful relationship which constantly defies second guessing.
by John Sharpe
The piano/sax duet is territory covered time and again by the highly individual pianist Matthew Shipp, and even when it’s one of countless pairings he’s done with tenor sax champ Ivo Perelman, there’s something new revealed in each encounter. On Then Now, Shipp is tossing around ideas on the fly with altoist Rob Brown, and a different partner brings about more than the usual variation in Shipp’s approach.

Matthew Shipp and Rob Brown go way back, well before Shipp’s long running collaborations with Perelman. They made a duo record back in 1988 (Sonic Explorations) that basically marked the launching point for both Shipp’s and Brown’s discography. Since then, Brown has appeared on a few Shipp projects as well as his own, and a lot for William Parker and Shipp’s former drummer, Whit Dickey.

Then Now is, like Sonic Explorations, a series of improvs loosely connected as a suite, only this time, there are no jazz standards attached at the end. Not that this matters: the essence of this tête-à-tête lies not in songs but in how two fiercely individual artists blend into a creative whole without compromising their identities. Across these eight improvisations, we hear them do that by making music on impulse, and judiciously using the levers of melody, harmony and rhythm to turn each piece into a narrative flow.

The beginning sax monologue on “Then Now #3” is a prime prototype of Brown’s Dolphy-isms advanced forward into today’s modern jazz sensibilities. Shipp slips in to modestly alter the harmonics of it, then goes on his own solo interpretation that brings even more delicacy out of Brown’s original inspiration. The percussive aspect of Shipp’s piano can often be overlooked when a drummer is present, but for performances such as “Then Now #4,” he displays a strong ability to control the flow from underneath, inserting beats at prime points all while comping telepathically.

The tightly weaved dialogue between Brown and Shipp throughout “Then Now #6” is really something to behold, it’s not something that’s possible without a profound understanding of each other’s tendencies and musical personalities.
by S. Victor Aaron

Matthew Shipp: piano
Rob Brown: alto saxophone

1. Then Now #1 (7:54)
2. Then Now #2 (10:42)
3. Then Now #3 (7:06)
4. Then Now #4 (9:06)
5. Then Now #5 (0:59)
6. Then Now #6 (6:22)
7. Then Now #7 (2:45)
8. Then Now #8 (5:27)

total time - 50:21
wydano: 2020-10
nagrano: Recorded by Jim Clouse on November 27th 2018 at Park West Studios, Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Rogue ART (FR)
Matthew Shipp - Rob Brown
Then Now
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