Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Michael Bisio & Matthew Shipp, Flow of Everything


It  has been the case for many years that if Matthew Shipp and/or Michael Bisio are on a recording I am going to want to hear and no doubt review it. Now we have an album with just the two together and needless to say I am glad to have a chance to hear and write about it. It is called Flow of Everything (FSR 01/2022). And of course I have been listening to it.

I am glad to say it is a very good one, an endless fountain of inventive improvisation and a kind of testament to the exceptional togetherness that the two take on when playing as a duo (but applies to their mutual presence in larger ensembles too, with at times a different density and  sometimes a different spatial allocation.)

Most readers will no doubt know that Matthew and Michael have nailed down two thirds of the Matthew Shipp Trio for quite some time now.  The completion in a drumming complement has consisted of in recent years Whit Dickey and now with Newman Taylor Baker.

Note that this duo with Shipp and Bisio actually marks the second such album with this duo configuration, if I am not mistaken that last being in 2016 and the Live in Seattle date. The long association of the two bears fruit in a closeness, a rapport not often experienced to this high degree out there in improv land.

The nine improvised segments flow together well (in keeping with the album title) and explore a sizeable terrain of possibilities, from tumbling ahead either in time with freely exclamatory phrasing at times, sometimes by worrying a phrase in a complementary pair for a time, and with a good deal of full throttle soloing simultaneously between the two, and at times locked into a flat-out swinging territory in free chromatic openness or a touch of modality,  and/or sometimes with endless modulation-melodic transformation.

It affirms that the two are are at the forefront of the modern freedom Jazz exponents on their respective instruments. The nine improvisations defy some glib description--if they were easy to describe, they probably would also not be the models of spontaneous invention that they are. But if you insist there are moments of scatter, swinging outness, cyclical pattern development, expressive reverie and glancing forays into expanded balladry, and other things besides. It is some of the finest examples of free improv today--showing how that art is continually growing and expanding and how Matthew and Michael have over the years gained their own special vocabulary, both as individual artists and as co-performers!

It is an album to embrace aurally, a benchmark of where we are today and how that matters. Very recommended.