Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bobby Kapp, Matthew Shipp, Cactus

When I heard drummer Bobby Kapp on Marion Brown's Three for Shepp many years ago I was jolted. Here was a drummer that swung in his own way and had a rootsy feel for the drum kit's many sonic possibilities. I caught him on some others but generally missed his later output...until now. But his presence on the Brown album has stuck with me all these years.

Following on the heels of an album out a couple of years ago, Themes 4 Transmutation, which grouped Kapp with Matthew Shipp and Ras Moshe Burnett (and I must hear that one!) we have a full CD of duets by Shipp and Kapp, Cactus (Northern Spy 079).

I've listened a bunch of times, and each time it gets better. Matthew, always at the forefront of the new free jazz piano, is relaxed and filled with great ideas, chordal-compositional spontaneity, beautifully abstract scatter, inside-the-piano projections, crazy-good outswing, open-form discoveries, he is inspired here and Bobby gives us an update on why he is such a sensitively effective drum exponent. And such a great partner to have on a free excursion. There is a natural rightness to his phrasing, a poise, a flowing torrent of the expected and unexpected.

And it all swings even when it is not doing so overtly. If there is no sound in life that is not followed by another, then all is rhythm. If there is no note that doesn't eventually fall into the lap or tag onto the sequence of another somewhere in time and space, then all is melody and harmony. When there is transcendent deliberation that makes it all meaningful, there are things like Cactus.

This album is a model for what great things can happen when two masters respond to one another and let it go where it may. Happy is the avant enthusiast who hears this. That's you. Grab onto this and it will stick to you in years to come. Brilliant!

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