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.


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