By Dave Cantor | Published June 2020
We can’t help read meaning into art and music. And clearly, the weird adventure we’re all living through now isn’t what this improvising quartet was getting at with the title of its album. The music here, though, swings a bit more than the names billed might lead folks to believe.
Two extended excursions bookend a shorter four-minute piece, “Scintillate,” where 577 label owner Daniel Carter offers up a cool tone on both trumpet and saxophone, sometimes poking around a bit to figure out where pianist Matthew Shipp is tonally—and where he’s leading the group. This is exploratory music—yes, the title gives it away. But it’s also the kind of music that benefits from listeners being able to sit around together and discuss what they’ve heard—or what they think they’ve heard, expanding their own knowledge of music in the process.
Shipp and bassist William Parker have decades of musical partnership behind them, and drummer Gerald Cleaver’s been an occasional compatriot in the past, too. So, what does it mean that they’re performing within this context? Is Carter’s approach as good a fit as when the rhythm section here helped record reedist Roscoe Mitchell’s ECM album Nine To Get Ready in 1997? Maybe. Or maybe not. It’s not a topic that folks currently can sit around at a bar and discuss. Discourse around the music, too, has been kneecapped by the pandemic. And we’re all a little worse off for it.
Parker playing arco during a short stretch on “Majestic Travel Agency,” the opener here, is a nice detour before the song sputters to a stop. And on the heroic 20-minute closer, “Ear-regularities,” the quartet rumbles along its journey, with Shipp steering the way. We’ll have to see when further adventures actually can be chartered, so listeners and acolytes can again congregate and let the music direct their imaginations toward new intellectual panoramas.