Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp
Not Two Records
You find Daniel Carter and his saxophone in a variety of places. A free-jazz player, he’s made dozens of albums on his own or as bandleader, several at the side of William Parker and he’s sat in on sessions from the indie-rock, dance and hip-hop communities (Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, DJ Logic, David Grubbs).
It’s a similar deal with Matthew Shipp – I first found him as the pianist in David S. Ware’s brilliant jazz quartet. But have followed him on through so many of his own records now and he pops up in other places too, most brilliantly for me on a record he shared with the hip-hop trio Antipop Consortium. Carter was also on that record. In fact Carter and Shipp have played together often, appearing on no less than six records together, usually with Carter sitting in as part of a band Shipp leads.
Dark Matrix is a set of freely improvised instrumental duets. Call and response between Shipp’s piano and Carter, here working across alto, tenor and soprano saxes as well as trumpet and clarinet.
Nighttime is the setting. These are deep nocturnal missives. Two long tracks, two shorter ones, obviously we really get to know the players and what they’re wanting to say on the big album hinges, the opening title track which unfurls over 16 minutes and the epic centerpiece, The Will To The Form, which sees both their instruments soar for nearly half an hour. As codas to those respective songs, Landing Takeoff is a frenetic, rhythm section-less bop piece that has the piano providing punctuation for the saxophone. And element, trickling in under three minutes, closes the album with a lovely late-night wash of sax and piano sitting in under; the closest thing to a ballad on this record.
But it’s the conversations that flow through the two longer pieces that will have you enthralled. In fact the whole album runs as if one long track really – the stops and starts of the tracks closing and opening provide breathing space for the audience as much as for the performers.
Where free-jazz can challenge and be almost willful in its destruction of form, Dark Matrix is tender for the most part; these are players taking their time to work something out, to converse, to engage in dialogue. It’s riveting and beautiful and worth listening to. It could be the record that sets you off on a new love-affair with free-improv.
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