Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Lieder CD
"Cosmic Lieder, an exquisite & expansive 13-part song-cycle, is a deeply emotional & illuminated narrative by two highly attuned and intelligent musical voices commenting on an alien world's landscape as they are simultaneously creating it. The songs range from entrancingly lyrical & gentle to mercurial flows to pieces which defy common description.
This momentous duo project exists because of the mutual admiration that Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp have for one another's prodigious musical gifts, and it bridges two generations of distinctly shining lights in the jazz world. Shipp, then celebrating his 50th year on this planet, is a veteran of invention and one of the truly original pianists in jazz history. Jones is a profoundly gifted young alto saxophonist-composer-bandleader whose 2009 debut, Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing), received an across-the-board wave of critical acclaim – chosen as among the best Jazz Albums of 2009 by Village Voice-Jazz Critics Poll, NPR, JazzTimes, Boston Globe, Destination:Out, and many more.
Darius and Matthew celebrated this album's release with an engagement at the Jazz Standard, NYC on April 27th, 2011. Two pieces from that night were included on their subsequent release,The Darkseid Recital [ dariusjones.bandcamp.com/album/the-darkseid-recital ]
Readers of the Final Crisis comic book miniseries and its precedents, written by Grant Morrison and published by DC Comics, will recognize most of the track titles (both here and on The Darkseid Recital) and perhaps more fully understand their meaning.
"A form of pure expression that transcends notions of genre or style. These are short pieces, densely compact and almost overwhelming in the amount of creativity they cram into a few minutes at a time. It's a breathtaking indication of how far collaborative improvisation has come." –Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise
"If titles mean anything, Cosmic Lieder is rather clever. Lied in the singular simply implies song with some degree of literary quality behind it, but Lieder tend to deliver some kind of cyclical narrative, some sense of journey or soul’s progress, and that is exactly what these two remarkable musicians have created here: a sequence of out-of-body journeyings that you might reasonably imagine Sun Ra and John Gilmore making, significant as much in their silences and elisions as in anything actually said, full of dark matter and tonal dust, interrupted by violent outbursts, punctuated by calms that seem prepared to run on forever." –Brian Morton, Point of Departure
"Veering between dark lyricism and roiling catharsis, the date offers an illuminating window into the creative discourse between two different generations of the avant-garde. The album vacillates between sonic extremes, gracefully merging the fragile euphony of bittersweet harmonies with strident dissonances and brash intervals, yielding a singularly melodic sensibility that is equal parts introspective and extroverted. Jones' vocalized timbre and rapturous delivery is comparable to a singer's dynamic range, as Shipp unleashes a labyrinthine series of melodic contours that escape the gravitational pull of standard harmony. Relatively brief and to the point, the oblique angles and abstruse detours of each concise tune invoke the art song tradition, making Cosmic Lieder an entirely appropriate title for this auspicious meeting."
–Troy Collins, All About Jazz
"Julius Hemphill once said that the key to successful improvised music is contrast. He couldn’t have asked for more powerful evidence than this tightly focused baker’s dozen of performances from Darius Jones and Matthew Shipp. These duo performances are truly sympathetic and move at the molecular level, making each piece on Cosmic Lieder wonderfully dense with information and ideas."
–Jason Bivens, Dusted
"This engrossing union of pianist Matthew Shipp and alto saxophonist Darius Jones fascinates for its emotional and conceptual richness. They both lock into a game of convergence and divergence that succeeds for their forceful individuality and unforced alchemy."
–Kevin Le Gendre, BBC.com
"Ideas are dwelled upon, though not overly so, and then they move on to the next one. The discreteness gives each track a clearer identity. Avant garde jazz? Perhaps more like improvised classical. The mood simmers, stews and flows almost like a chamber piece. A true collaboration of equals" –S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!
"I'm going to say this bluntly: if you're a fan of improvised music, you need to hear this record. Combining language derived from free-improv, jazz and 20th century classical music, they've created a 13-part song cycle that is simultaneously beautiful, ugly, serene and chaotic. Each track is short, concise and focused. 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 album that features two of music's most distinct voices."
–Matthew Fong, Exclaim! "