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Matthew Shipp String Quartet: By the Law of Music

Pianist Matthew Shipp remains one of the true believers among younger jazz musicians (born in 1960) who are taking the liberating spirit of free jazz into the music’s future rather than dismissing it as an obsolete footnote. Shipp came to New York to play with two musicians similarly devoted to the free cause-saxist David S. Ware and bassist William Parker, but has already made headway on his own, in hornless settings. Two recent releases document Shipp’s unstoppable mission. By the Law of Music features Shipp’s “string” trio, for the strings of his grand piano, William Parker’s bass and Mat Maneri’s violin. They venture into 13 relatively short, but entirely uncompromising explorations, now fragile, now ferocious. The album closes disarmingly, with an anarchic reading of Duke Ellington’s “Solitude,” in which the pianist lays down the recognizable form of the tune, while the others dance in atonal abandon. Each to his or her own solitude. The Flow of X, with Shipp’s quartet also features Parker and Maneri, but with the addition of drummer Whit Dickey. As the title of the album and its songs (“Flow of Y,” “Flow of Silence,” etc.) infers, this music is all about flow, the flow of dialogue and moods between sentient musicians and the flow of music with a decidedly free will.

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