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Matthew Shipp duo with Mat Maneri: Gravitational Systems

The Matthew Shipp Duo with Mat Maneri is well-named in one sense because the pianist almost always determines the flow of the music. Even when he sets up a situation where he is basically being an accompanist, as on “Two Elements,” his strongly accented chords push the violinist towards a linear kind of soloing that Maneri doesn’t employ on the other recordings. Not that there’s anything wrong with this. Shipp certainly listens to his partner and responds to what he does, but generally Maneri’s more abstract style seems better suited to following the pianist’s cues. In any case, it is impressive how well these two work together. “Greensleeves,” though, Shipp’s very straight rendition of the classic tune, seems somewhat pointless, indicative of a certain awkwardness managing the difficult transition from inside to out that manifests itself occasionally here. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed “Knots,” with its convoluted head and impressively focused improv.

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