CD review: Matthew Shipp Trio and Nicole Mitchell – All Things Are 2019: Video, CD cover

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This collaboration between Matthew Shipp’s trio and flutist Nicole Mitchell might better be described as a confab or parley. Each party is testing out new ground and finding a mutual comfort zone on All Things Are.

Of course that comes in the job description of an improvising musician. Shipp’s partners, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, work together as a conversant trio. Mitchell is the wildcard here that perks the ears.

The now-Californian (by way of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) artist released music under her own leadership in Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, Ice Crystal, Sonic Projections, and contributed to the collectives Frequency and Indigo Trio that includes the luminaries Hamid Drake, Harrison Bankhead, and Tomeka Reid. She has also collaborated, as has Shipp, with saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell. That connection is vital to this recording.

The four musicians explore territories mostly free from song form, a seeming requirement when they possess the creativity and music making ability to power a mid-size city. “Elements” opens the session with a commanding impetus. Newman Taylor Baker’s cymbals signal drama, as Michael Bisio’s bass chews up huge swaths of land. If Shipp and Mitchell chose, they could have pushed this recording into the thunderous land of free jazz. Instead, they opt to meet in the ethereal worlds, mining a delicacy and, at times, an eggshell-like fragility of sound. Mitchell’s vocalese must be the answer. She can frame her sound as both wispy or hard-boiled. Minus Shipp on “It,” Mitchell turns up the quiet before polishing off some energy clusters. Is she doing her best Matt Shipp imitation here? The most accessible and, maybe the signature piece here is the grooving “Void of Ground.” With an infectious pulse, both Shipp and Mitchell are freed to unchain their inner beasts.

  1. Elements (07:25)
  2. Well Spring (05:12)
  3. It (06:12)
  4. Hidden Essence (05:19)
  5. Void Of Ground (06:29)
  6. Water And Earth (05:50)
  7. Fire And Air (05:42)
  8. Blossom (05:49)
  9. All Things Are (08:40)

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute; Michael Bisio: double bass; Newman Taylor Baker: drums.

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