Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Marshall Allen/Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris: Night Logic

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Followers of pianist Matthew Shipp’s music know that it is cerebral, actualized only in improvisation. In Night Logic, Shipp collaborated with Arkestra alto saxophone player, Marshall Allen, and longtime colleague, bassist Joe Morris. According to the liner notes written by poet Steve Dalachinsky, whose contribution qualifies him as the fourth member of the group, “…the tracks… encompass…Shipp’s basic organizational principle of the suite, having the music flow as one organic body…”

And flow it does… each musician contributing to the dynamic that moves the music through an amazing gravity-less space to produce sound that dances with the light. Allen plays three different instruments: alto sax, flute and EVI (electronic valve instrument). A major voice in the trio, he plays the alto and the flute with a lyrical clarity, especially in solo or duet, and the EVI, as if it were filtering extraterrestrial messages.

The musicians pair off and single themselves out. The tempos stay within set parameters. The way in which the music postures itself in color and character is crucial to the shape and atmosphere of the sound-scape. In the title track, Shipp’s openness with the sounding board of the piano elicits Allen’s initial flute playing. The resulting conversation brings out Shipp’s damped light-fingeredness on the keyboard; and when Allen squeaks and whines on his alto, Morris struts his bowing.

The transitions from one track to another are invisible in keeping with the album’s primary concept. The listener’s awareness is fundamental to hearing the instrumental changes, the responsiveness of one musician to the other as each plays into earshot and falls away into a distant proximity. Shipp’s work on the piano adds nothing but a consistent sparkle to the musical gestalt. Morris’ low-tone one-note arco coda to the album returns the music to its inescapable earthly origins.

Originally Published