Monday, June 2, 2014

Jeff Cosgrove/Matthew Shipp/William Parker, Alternating Current

From the first minute of Alternating Current (Grizzley Music) you know you are in for something special. It's a date organized by the inventive free drummer Jeff Cosgrove featuring two long-time masters of the new jazz, pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker.

The focus is a kind of homage to two modern titans of the drums, the late Paul Motion (via a performance of his "Victoria") and the very-much-with-us Andrew Cyrille (the freely unravelling title cut is dedicated to him).

This is open-form music all the way. Matthew Shipp is in an exploratory mood, coming up with organic variations-on-variations that combine his gift of opening us to a broad harmonic pallet while also realizing his striking ability to weave lines that catch our ears off-guard and impress on them phrases that speak directly and memorably to us. William Parker gives generously to us his wide-ranging, brilliantly realized lower-register inspirations. Jeff Cosgrove holds his own with naturally pulsating inventive freedom. Together in this expansive format ("Bridges of Tomorrow" alone runs nearly 40 minutes) they get a three-way dialog together that covers a great deal of ground, that needs to be heard more than described. (Language can only get you so far...then your ears must take over.)

To hear them forge their very personal version of Motion's "Victoria" is a treat and a high point. But really it all reaches high-point, the sometimes elusive zone, an aural "Shangri-La", a special island of sound where everybody clicks and wonderful music is made. The most brilliant of the "free improvisers" create spontaneous form anew each time they play. These three do that here especially well.

Open up and let this music in. You will be glad you did. Very recommended.

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