Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp

Cosmic Lieder

By Matthew FongI'm going to say this bluntly: if you're a fan of improvised music, you need to hear this record. A first time collaboration, Cosmic Lieder is alto saxophonist Darius Jones and pianist Matthew Shipp joining forces in one of the finest displays of improvisation I've heard in the past year. Combining language derived from free-improv, jazz and 20th century classical music, they've created a 13-part song cycle (lieder is German for "songs") that is simultaneously beautiful, ugly, serene and chaotic. Each track is short, concise and focused (the longest, "Ultima Thule," is just over four minutes). The interaction between players is almost like a fencing match ― Jones deftly weaves melodies around and through Shipp's dense harmonic backdrop while Shipp parries and thrusts his ideas into the fray. That being said, it's not a battle and the result is a stunning, if short-ish (40 minutes long), album that features two of NYC's most distinct voices.
(Aum Fidelity)
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