Saturday, December 2, 2017

Julianna Barwick & Mirah with Lori Goldston String Quarter at St. Mark's Cathedral: Dec 2 | Earshot Jazz presents Matthew Shipp Trio at Poncho Hall: Dec 4

Two shows of note this weekend amidst the dearth of the December cultural calendar. Earshot Jazz brings New York pianist and composer, Matthew Shipp back to Seattle with a solid new trio. His command of the piano, and the expanse of his tonal palette, Jazzwise champions as one of the most expressive to be heard in an acoustic setting, "he produces ecstatic violence and needle sharp delicacy, unleashing volcanic overtones as well as timbral pizzicato curls in hisses and sighs,". Recently enlisting Newman Taylor Baker on drums and Michael Bisio on bass, The Matthew Shipp Trio has released two stellar recordings in his current mode, 2015's "The Conduct Of Jazz" and this year's "Piano Song". Downbeat magazine, gold standard of jazz magazines in the US, mapped the progress of "Matthew Shipp's Evolution" for their May 2017 issue. From his graduation in 1984 from the New England Conservatory of Music, to an extended stint with the David S. Ware Quartet beginning in 1989, which brought Shipp into the orbits of drummer Marc Edwards, bassist William Parker and most notably, contact with one of the great vanguard pianists of the 20th century, Cecil Taylor. This would be the high-altitude point of entry for ship into a 50 album career iconoclast within free jazz and improvisation, producing a vast body of music that have defined, and redefined the stylistic parameters of that idiom. Jazz Times' "Matthew Shipp: Song of Himself" focusing on his practice of blurring and melding musical worldviews, particularly for his Blue Series released through Shipp's longstanding relationship as music director with Thirsty Ear Recordings.

Among these collaborative pan-genre settings, Shipp has broken free of the constraints of the jazz world, exemplified on his "High Water" with Def Jux director, and Run the Jewels MC and producer, EL-P. But it has been in standard jazz trios with other leaders of late-20th century improvisation, like that of this year's "Magnetism" with Rob Brown and William Parker for the French label RogueArt, that Shipp most excels. The Saturday before, Abbey Arts Cathedrals series presents K Records stalwart, and longtime purveyor of hushed minimalist songwriting, Mirah. Backed by the Lori Goldston-led string quartet, this edition in the series places the night's performers in a open floor concert setting within the vaulted ceilings of the grand and monolithic, St. Mark's Cathedral. Mirah is joined in this unanimously apropos venue (no loud rock bar hangers-on or drunken banter here) by the compositions of Julianna Barwick, an American vocalist and singer who's work bridges pop sourcing with avant-garde technique. Vocalizing melodic and textural material, Barwick's music is assembled through electronic and loop-based process into a flowing, layered, oceanic tide of sound. On her albums for Austin indie label, Dead Oceans, borrowing themes from Greek myth, the work of Edgar Allan Poe, and inspiration from modern architecture, like that of the Philip Johnson Glass House, Barwick assembles these into abstracted phrases and tonal utterances. Constructed, processed and massed into liquid states, varying between melodic waves, distorted fields and a abstracted miasmic fog, Barwick's voice is then further enhanced though technological leaps like those enabled by the Moog Mother-32.