The Uppercut: Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian Duo: Live at Okuden
Matthew Shipp, the supreme jazz pianist of his generation, and Mat Walerian, the finest Polish jazz woodwind player of his, have combined their talents in concert on several occasions. This album documents one such event on May 15, 2012.
Shipp hardly needs an introduction at this point thanks to a career of over a quarter century, including not only many acclaimed albums under his own name but also a long and prominent tenure in the David S. Ware Quartet and a vast array of collaborations with the likes of Spring Heel Jack, Ivo Perelman, Sabir Mateen, Darius Jones, Joe Morris, Jemeel Moondoc, and more.
Walerian is the younger of the two, and because of that and Americans' myopia about foreign jazz masters, many jazz fans are not as familiar with his work as they are with Shipp's. We think that one listen to this album should convince everyone of the imaginative depth of his musical vision and the likelihood that he will soon be counted among the avant-jazz scene's international stars. Largely self-taught and deeply immersed in Eastern philosophy, his approach to improvisation is unique and compelling.
Matthew Shipp: piano
Mat Walerian: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, flute
William Parker: liner notes
02. Blues for Acid Cold
03. Jungle Meditation
04. Free Bop Statement One
05. Free Bop Statement Two
06. It's Sick Out There
07. Love and the Other Species
08. Peace and Respect
09. Black Rain
Liner Notes by William Parker
For the past 30 years Matthew Shipp has kept his music and musical associations true to himself and the higher laws of the universe. He has done this by having the courage play uncompromising music, unafraid to bring us tears and flowers wrapped up in the blues. Not intimidated by jazz history, Matthew has spent his life learning how to feel comfortable stepping into the unknown part of the tone world.
In this new album Matthew appears with Mat Walerian, whose playing reminds me of the Japanese paintings of Sesshu, full of fine lines, images, and sounds that tell haiku-like stories, arresting and mysterious. As the music progresses from clarinets to alto sax to flute, you can hear sound and space disrobe to reveal villages with beautiful clouds over trees laced with seraphic hues and birds dancing. The musicians are never concerned about style or genre. What do I call this music? One word comes to mind: "Exquisite.”"
Throughout his musical career, Shipp has been able to accomplish a rare thing. That is to be able to find the center in the music every time he plays. This music is more concerned with poetics because it is poetics, not technique or academics, that will allow the music to go inside and change the soul of the listener. It is transcendence of music that will lead us to transcendence. I enjoyed this music on many levels; the more I listen to it, the more layers of brilliance I discover. So remember, give it repeated listening; accept it for what it is, not for what it is not.
Mat Walerian plays some of most lovely and relaxed uncompromised beauty that I have ever heard in a long time. Now some might ask, who is this saxophone player? Who has he studied with, where does he come from? I say accept him, he loves music and has risen to his apex in this duet with Matthew Shipp. The most important thing is not who he studied with, the most important thing is that he is alive on the scene. Mat Walerian is one of the special ones, and along with Matthew Shipp they have created a new music called Elusive Beauty. I invite you to enjoy it and learn how to cherish life.
"[Walerian] is one of the most talented young jazz musicians on the Polish scene, if not THE most talented." – Maciej Lewenstein, Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond
"Matthew Shipp has become an elder statesman in the jazz world. How that happened can be boiled down to two simple elements. One: he has created a unique sound and language for improvised music and two: Shipp has become a doyen of cutting edge music making and opinion." – Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
"Walerian‘s playing is rooted in the early free-jazz, with heavy echoes of bluesy tone. His lines can be jazzy in the spirit of post-bop as well as angular and abstract, he goes for more direct approach on alto, while searching for more sonic shades on bass clarinet. He tends for modest and minimal, selecting carefully the means of his expression ... his playing (is) warm, very melodic, while not being afraid of some tone and timbre explorations. Fresh and inspiring is the contrast between the free-jazz boiling section behind him and his cool, thoughtful lines and very jazz phraseology, moving from blues, bebop, free-bop up to some not too extreme free improv.“ – (Free) Jazz Alchemist