Matthew Shipp Quartet

Flow of X

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Flow of X is standard Matthew Shipp -- he's joined by frequent collaborators violinist Mat Maneri, bassist William Parker, and drummer Whit Dickey, playing free jazz without any obvious unifying concept. The performers do exactly what they're expected to: Shipp plays rich, low-register chords and more acrobatic lines like a slightly more sedate Cecil Taylor, while Maneri adds pensive, tangled violin. Parker plays his usual mix of walking plucks and scratchy but expressive arco groans, and Dickey contributes busy, cymbal-heavy flurries of sound. The improvisation here is as good as Shipp fans have come to expect; there are plenty of inspired moments, like Maneri and Parker's frantic, fluttering high-wire act near the end of "Flow of M" and Shipp and Parker's propulsive, dizzying duet at the beginning of "Instinctive Codes." Unfortunately, the midrange-heavy production deadens the album's impact a bit and, as great as the playing is, there's no shortage of recordings featuring these musicians. Before seeking this one out, check out the Nommonsemble's excellent 2001 recording, Life Cycle, which includes Dickey, Maneri, and Shipp along with saxophonist Rob Brown.

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