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Whit Dickey/William Parker/Matthew Shipp - Village Mothership (TAO Forms)

19 October 2021

There’s nothing like listening to musicians with close relationships make noise together. Drummer Whit Dickey, bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp first played together on Shipp’s 1992 trio record Circular Temple, then formed the core of late saxophonist David S. Ware’s quartet. For the past three decades the trio have flowed in and out of each other’s orbits, but Village Mothership is their first album together as a threesome since Temple.

As might be expected from three players who’ve been partners on and off for so long, the threesome connects on a level so deep it’s nearly spiritual. No matter how each piece begins, all the musicians follow the inner spirit that guides it, with Dickey’s free form drumming, Parker’s grooving bass and Shipp’s roaming piano tied, however loosely, to the same tether. That gives the tracks plenty of room to ramble, from the off-kilter spiral “A Thing & Nothing” to the tunefully fractured title track. Though perfectly happy on the dissonant side of the road, nobody here forgets melody – indeed, it’s the trio’s watchword, even if the tune follows a side path and absorbs clattering tone clusters along the way. But even seemingly inconsonant cuts like “Whirled in the Void” and its companion “Down Void Way” (which features some insinuating arco work from Parker) reign in chaos in favor of beauty. Wrapped in Syliva Plachy photos of the East Village taken at the time these musicians came up, Village Mothership not only represents communion, but community.