Monday, June 01, 2020

Whit Dickey - Morph (ESP-DISK, 2020)

The drummer Whit Dickey meets up with his frequent teammate pianist Matthew Shipp for an exciting and impressive two disc set, playing the first disc a duo, and then inviting trumpeter Nate Wooley for the second disc. The opening track "Blue Threads" has bright and engaging piano with crisp drumming, with both musicians comfortable and playing well at a swinging medium tempo. The music ripples and cascades in an appealing manner, with focused and thoughtful playing. Subdued percussion opens "Dice" along with skittish spidery piano playing, which makes the music feel free yet in control, light and agile. Massive crashing piano chords on "Thick" are met with a strong percussive response as the two musicians create an extremely powerful performance, one of withering strength and unity. They push the music forward, moving with great speed and ferocity on this memorable performance. There is a stoic presence to "Steps" with excellent use of cymbals and varying hues and textures of piano. The pace and intensity of the music picks up and falls as they use the full dynamic range of their instruments to excellent effect. "Morph" develops gradually, not rushing into the moment, building an open approach and placing meaning into music. Nate Wooley joins them beginning with "Noir 1" adding his energy and creativity to a fast and wide ranging improvisation, connecting together to send the music to a special place. Wooley adds raw guttural effects to the dark resonating piano to drive the music into an altogether deeper dimension. "Take the Wild Train" places raw scouring trumpet with spare percussion in a free sounding context, Shipp enters after a couple of minutes, adding further texture. The music becomes more rhythmic with strongly played piano and percussion squaring off, and Wooley's trumpet flying free over and around the piano and drums. This was an excellent set of music, showing Dickey's quality as a drummer and music conceptualist, truly coming into his own with not only this collection but his new label Tao Forms releasing albums by himself and Shipp. Morph - amazon.com

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