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Polish saxophonist/clarinetist/flutist, Mat Walerian, the last artist to be approved for ESP-DISK by the late Bernard Stollman, returns with a sophomore collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp, featuring drummer Hamid Drake, that recalls the classic sound of the legendary label.
Like the previous Live at Okuden that first documented Walerian and Shipp as a duo, this performance at Poland’s Okuden Music Concert Series finds the musicians in a perfect fluid zen where music arises purely from air, space and inspiration. Walerian exudes hard bop in the first half, his saxophone a constant stream of energy, while later on he adopts the expansive, breathy tones of Pharoah Sanders and even some Ornette Coleman experimentalism. Shipp retains his refined poise, acknowledging Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner and Alice Coltrane within his own unique style, which also draws from classical music. Drake fits perfectly between the two, not simply setting the tempo, but also working within the pace set by his session mates with an innate sense of rhythm. Together, the trio builds a city of sound, hot and bustling at times, yet cool and peaceful when no one is looking.
Where screech and skronk seem to be mostly associated with free music, Walerian, Shipp and Drake only get there when the signs point in that direction. For them, it’s a mode of transportation, not a destination. They’d rather enjoy the ride and see where it goes than insist on a goal. Follow their trail and see where it takes you.
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