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Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp: The Darkseid Recital

In a solo setting, it can be a challenge to figure out whether Matthew Shipp is playing a composition or if the music is emerging from his fingers spontaneously. If the latter applies, he has an uncanny ability to chart a well-developed course with ease, never sticking on one path for too long before another avenue appears with more melodic options on the way. If he is playing a set of compositions, perhaps even more acclaim is in order, since his music continues to sound free while sidestepping the many clichés associated with “free jazz.”

I’ve Been to Many Places seems to bring all these angles together consciously, and the album’s biggest surprise is the brevity of the 17 tracks, all under five minutes, which could get Shipp some airplay where that option still exists. While originals like the title track and “Brain Shatter” offer dense chords to latch onto, Shipp’s covers are equally attention grabbing: “Summertime” becomes ominous, the melody of “Tenderly” will lead some to think they’re hearing a Shipp original, “Naima” sounds majestic. Another surprise: There are two versions of the Donny Hathaway/Roberta Flack hit “Where Is the Love,” the first a bright single-chorus trip, the second a slow, sinister reading.

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