Monday, June 6, 2016

Jungle, Mat Walerian, Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake, Live at Okuden

On the heels of the Mat Walerian-Matthew Shipp duo recording of last year (see my review from May, 2015 on these pages) we have a trio of Mat, Matt and drummer Hamid Drake extending the interaction with Jungle, Live at Okuden (ESP 5009, 2-CDs).

Once again Mat Walerian establishes his presence as an avant reedist with some fire-y blues and roots in his soul. On alto, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet and flute he holds his own with the seminal pianist Matthew Shipp and the drummer legend Hamid Drake.

The two-CD space gives us a good amount of time to hear Mat stretch out and interact fully with Matthew and Hamid. It is music in the outside realm as you might expect, but the open form approach allows for various developments. Shipp and Drake turn in some beautiful performances that set the stage and offer convergent voicings for Walerian to respond to in his concentrated soulfulness.

It is an impressive outing, as much so for the Walerian extroverted testification as for the high flying responses of Shipp and Drake.

This is present-day music in the grand ESP tradition, with two masters of the art creating a joyful noise in support of the lesser-known but very grounded and expressive Mat Walerian. My favorite from the set is "One For," where the post-Coltrane channelings have a beautiful momentum and spiritual energy that is reassuring and heartening to hear today.

But the whole set is very worth having, for the coherency and committed travels of three of the very best new-new thing practitioners of the high art. It's a winner, hands down!

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