Steve Dalachinsky and Matthew Shipp: Phenomena of Interference

New York City poet Steve Dalachinsky has performed his verse for decades, collaborating with downtown legends like William Parker, Daniel Carter and Vernon Reid. But his recorded output is sparse: Phenomena of Interference is only his third album and his first since 2002. It’s also his best. Dalachinsky delivers sharp, puncturing verse in a wide range of tones, and pianist Matthew Shipp is uncannily responsive, often sounding like the steam trailing from Dalachinsky’s inspired breath.

In fact, as good as Dalachinsky is here, Shipp is even better. On “Subway System,” Shipp’s chugging chords evoke the shifting rhythms of the underground rail. Later, on “Naima,” Shipp darts around Coltrane’s classic as Dalachinsky’s words rise and fall. Even when the poet hits a rare awkward patch, like the strained chanting at the end of “Galileo (For Sonny Rollins),” Shipp saves him with delicate runs. The duo reaches highest on “Three Orchids for Niblock” and “Blackjack,” in which Dalachinksky and Shipp navigate a roller coaster of moods. Dalachinsky’s poems are reprinted in the CD booklet, but save that for later-the duo’s spontaneous creations are best experienced in thrilling real time.