Time Is of the Essence; The Essence Is Beyond Time
Those who are afraid that pianist Matthew Shipp is getting soft after he released Pastoral Composure (Thirsty Ear) will rest assured with this release: he's featured in an extreme outer-limits dialogue with this all-star ecstatic-jazz ensemble. Shipp's quaking low-end rumbles and wayward lyricism is underpinned by William Parker's prowling bass lines and Rashid Bakr's sparse drumming. On top, trumpeter Roy Campbell and reedman Daniel Carter alternate between full-blast screeching textures, secretive slurs and intricate cross-dialogues.
Recorded live in 1997 at the Knitting Factory, the untitled seven-part suite places heavy emphasis on collective improvisation with little regard for conventional song structure. Given that, depending on your leanings toward ecstatic jazz, the performance amounts to either sonic improvisation of the highest order or indiscernible hermetic noise. Each member of the ensemble performs to his optimum level, but the overall result is all too forgettable.