Darius Jones and Matthew Shipp, Cosmic Lieder: The Darkseid Recital

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 08.12.14 in Reviews

Proving that the brawny, sprawling splendor of their first series of Cosmic Lieder duets three years ago was no fluke, alto saxophonist Darius Jones and pianist Matthew Shipp once again rumble and roar with playful aplomb on The Darkseid Recital.

Large, thrilling duets of avant-garde jazz-blues

As with the first collection, Jones is more often the provocateur, while Shipp, the elder statesman, counterpunches and refracts the music into dazzling shifts of tempo and intensity, accomplished with the bold, casual confidence of an acknowledged shared sensibility. Both Jones and Shipp are comfortable on the woolly fringes of “avant-garde” or “outside” jazz, yet they are also grounded by a deep appreciation for the blues. All the tools in the duet kit — silence, repetition, entropy, syncopation — are deployed, but the breadth of textures and innovative array of mood transitions ensure that the interplay is free of cliché. The nine songs are performed live at various gigs around New York from 2011-13, and Darkseid captures the spontaneity while culling the acoustic debris detrimental to concert performances.

This is large music, from the hopscotch bleats of “Granny Goodness” to the thrilling locomotive skronk that climaxes “Lord of Woe” to the subterranean chamber stylings of “Divine Engine.” It frequently sounds like more than two people, rafting on the white water of their surging imaginations.