Thursday, August 25, 2022

Gordon Grdina, Mark Helias, Matthew Shipp, Pathways


What is new out there? There is something in the realm of a notable new guitarist (to me) in company with cutting-edge Avant Jazz bassist Mark Helias and masterful pianist Matthew Shipp. That is Gordon Grdna and the new album Pathways (ABG Records ABG-5). It is a sort of monumental, consequential three-way dive into the inventive moment of a new now, Avant but more breeze-filled than "difficult."

The three-way rapport is remarkable, and I am consequently taken with the out-front line spelling we hear in nine spontaneously created mood-riding contrasts, from lyrically Silly-Putty-stretched to quasi-free Latin to bombastic exultation. It is ever what we justly expect from Maestros Shipp and Helias, but then Grdna surprises with his own thing, a well-formed string conquering palette of beautifully wrought note constructions throughout.

These are three masterfully Modern improvisers at the very top of their game. If you especially listen for the guitar or the bass, listen again to the piano, then this as a totality after a focus on that, for Matthew Shipp has an remarkably lithe yet robust presence that helps rocket it all into space. All three listen without mimicking, step forward each with his own rather brilliant contribution. 

It is a object lesson in how a trio like this can transcend the entropy of a heavy silence and replace it with a three-way movement out to the nether regions of invention.


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Michael Gregory Jackson, Electric Git Box, Solo Electric Guitar


Ever since I stumbled on his very first album via JCOA Michael Gregory Jackson has been one of my very favorite guitarists. Some of the reasons why are very much up front on his recent album Electric Git Box (Magicolored Music, Bandcamp). It is a truly seminal flow of the special lyric intensity of Michael in a glowingly expressive mood, like some things on that very first album only evolved, beautifully coming to be as much or more than ever. Like McLaughlin when he was inspired lyrically solo-wise, there is total originality and brilliance with every track, a number of short but terrifically engaging and musically significant melodic-harmonic thrusts.

It touches as it goes along so movingly on how and why a one-person solo electric guitar in the right hands is fully musical art, a deft handling of the beauty of the very electric sound with the best sort of lyric invention that Michael's brilliance makes possible here in the most original and memorable ways.

Go on Bandcamp and listen. It will hit you right away I hope. And it just gets better as you keep rehearing it. 

My highest recommendation for this one. Do not miss it! The special chordal-melodic spelling out should put you in a magical place, if you are like me.