Friday, May 5, 2017

Dickey / Maneri / Shipp, Vessel in Orbit

When formidable jazz artists get together in a spontaneous act and create a body of music, if the conditions are right something very valuable may be created. It is true that those with no understanding of the music may hear no difference between an inspired date and one less so. Nonetheless those who have been trained to grasp, to feel the essence of the music take notice.

Much of new avant jazz today may be misunderstood or unappreciated by those who have not taken the effort to live with such sounds over an extended period. As the great John Coltrane told a Japanese interviewer many years ago, "It is something that you may understand over time, or you may never understand." I am quoting from memory so I may not be giving his exact words, but the truth remains.

How long it took me to understand fully the free improvisational art form we are blessed with in our time is not easy to reconstruct exactly. I delved into it all when quite young and back then there was a spirit of growth and a need to question the world that predisposed me to explore such things, so that when I first heard Coltrane's Om I immediately felt the importance of the music, though I did not understand it yet. It was something "in the air" then, something that went along with the spirit of the age. I eventually listened to more and more of this kind of music and there was a number of years I put into the first effort, understanding growing with every new artist or recording I surveyed. There was no "aha" moment because understanding never ceases to grow if you allow it. Now there may be less inclination for people to travel beyond their typical comfort zone today. Or I may be wrong. My neighbors for sure have no real idea of the music that they may overhear me listening to. But their natural curiosity is not obvious. They may be too old for that?

The point in this is that you either have a need to expand your being for whatever reason, or you maybe do not. Those who don't may never come to the music. Others may find they are ready for the truly new.

It is those in the second group who along with avant jazz converts may find Vessel in Orbit (AUM Fidelity 101) of intuitive or concrete importance. It may hit you immediately or only after several listens. But it is built into this music and only needs your participation to complete the communication, to create for your being the art that is intended to be a gift to you.

The music is a product of the fruitful meeting of Whit Dickey on drums, Mat Maneri on viola and Matthew Shipp on piano. Eight free improvisational segments grace the album, each a coherency that can stand on its own or add collective weight to the whole album in sequence.

The threesome is primed and filled with great musical ideas. Maneri is less often heard with these two co-creators than the two co-creators have been heard together. In fact a previous meeting on disk with either has escaped my memory if there have been any. Whit was a full-time member of Matthew's trio for a long while and so the two have had a good deal of time to forge a dialog. Whit has as I understand it been ill for a time, so there has been a refreshing pause in their musical discourse. All sounds extremely well with the two here, for sure. They jump right in where they left off.

Maneri sounds completely at ease on this album so if there may be less logged-in musical interaction between himself and the other two, there is an immediate connection they make here. It is some of the finest Maneri moments I have heard on record. He unleashes torrents of pristine improvisational lines, unpredictable yet sounding totally right for this trio context.

Matthew Shipp seems to find that the relaxed gathering puts him in the mind to upend his creative vessel and let great things pour out continuously.

Whit takes advantage of the open potential of the trio to create ever varied patternless freedom via continually significant drumming. So this is pretty momentous, all of it!

There are times when the history of jazz makes an allusive appearance via a kind of style quotation scenario, but then it is mostly improvisations that have the purity of the now, the eloquence of the making present of the present.

The music is not so much energy directed, though there is much energy. It is a three-way willingness to speak with new words, to make sense out of the previously unexpressed, the potential to express.

The result is very beautiful! You who do not know what freedom is might start here and perhaps change your life. Those who already know will find joy in this outing. It is exceptional.

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