While working with Matthew Shipp on an Ivo Perelman album, drummer Whit Dickey and pianist Shipp agreed to record an album of their own and enlisted violist Mat Maneri to record this album of deep space-themed improvisations, collective music of heavy propulsion that bursts from impassioned exchange to convoluted clusters of sound.
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Label: Aum Fidelity
Catalog ID: AUM 101CD
Squidco Product Code: 23799
Recorded at Park West Studios in Brooklyn, New York, on March 18th, 2016 by Jim Clouse.
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1. Spaceship 9 5:15
2. Space Walk 6:37
3. Dark Matter 5:58
4. Galaxy 9 9:13
5. Turbulence 4:51
6. To A Lost Comrade 5:39
7. Space Strut 4:29
8. Hyperspatial 6:12
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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"Vessel In Orbit presents the first new group music in over a decade from singular drummer-composer Whit Dickey. It is a richly melodic and deeply focused set; structural integrity and emotional resonance are paramount throughout. Created together with the impeccable improvisers Mat Maneri on viola and pianist Matthew Shipp. Each of these men has a lifetime commitment to creative music, and they share a musical relationship with one another that dates back decades. Wide-open listening and fluid expression abound here."-ESP
"What we hear from the new trio formed by Whit Dickey is less a conversation than a meeting of minds-a collective intelligence engaged in executing a concept. The album's title, Vessel in Orbit, invites the listener to imagine a narrative of Spaceship 9's small crew as they journey through the darkness of space, encountering moments of danger, confusion, and sublime beauty, often in rapid succession.
Chief engineer is Matthew Shipp on piano. Shipp's propulsive chording, sound clusters, and occasionally ornamental melodic lines drive this vessel outward. Sometimes, due to the impulsiveness of the captain, it is Shipp's intuitive skills that keep it all together. Whit Dickey acts as the ship's crew, constantly monitoring conditions, keeping systems humming. Riding a cymbal, he provides a sonar ping, a signal beacon. Rumbling the toms or snapping the snare, he updates the captain about unforeseen developments in the flight plan. The somewhat manic and unpredictable captain is Mat Maneri. Maneri's viola, bowed and plucked, sometimes sings with the lonely throatiness of a mourning human voice, sometimes with the hectic derring-do of an explorer, and sometimes thrashes about like a mind disoriented and at war with itself, but it is always compelling.
The first half of Vessel in Orbit is full of excitement. In the first song, "Spaceship 9," we imagine the spaceship as it begins its voyage. There are chaotic moments when the ship encounters difficulties as well as moments of sparse calm. In the second song, "Space Walk," each instrument sounds tentative. There is plenty of space between each player as they float out on their individual lines, yet they remain tethered to one another and to the ship by a constantly evolving heartbeat of a nearly-melodic line. In "Dark Matter," there seems to be a considerable amount of physical and psychic stress. The steadiness of the orbit grows unreliable as the crew attempts to make sense of the data. Finally, in "Galaxy 9," piano, viola, and drums drift, calmly observing uncharted space, with no need for resolution.
I find the second, slower, more reflective, half of Vessel in Orbit less engaging, yet it has plenty of beautiful moments. "Turbulence" is somewhat static compared to the previous songs, but it seems to lead into the phases of mourning portrayed in "To a Lost Comrade." There, Shipp's piano sounds elegiac, Dickey taps a cymbal with the sad insistence of a fife and drum corps, and Maneri's viola sings the through the stages of grief: haunting in denial and anger, almost silent in depression and acceptance. "Space Strut" marks a rather jaunty turn and features some pretty finger rolls by Shipp and some nice pizzicato from Maneri. The final song, "Hyperspatial," sums up the voyage. It is a deeply felt expression of the wisdom that comes through experience, which finds expression in sheets of sound.
Whit Dickey, Mat Maneri, and Matthew Shipp have played together in various combinations for decades. The length and depth of their relationship is evident on Vessel in Orbit. In this trio's incarnation, Dickey's compositions reign in the sometimes wildness of Maneri and Shipp, not to tame them but to focus their endless inventive energies. There is hardly a moment of silence on the album, yet even at their most cacophonous, each instrument rings clearly in communion. Rarely does any musician perform anything akin to a solo, or play in rhythm, yet their camaraderie is deep, collaborative and never contradictory. This is a rewarding and evocative album. Anyone who has been a fan of Dickey, Maneri, or Shipp will marvel at their discoveries of new ways to improvise collectively and will find much to love listening to again and again."-Rick Joines, The Free Jazz Collective
Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective
• Show Bio for Whit Dickey
"Whit Dickey (born May 28, 1954, New York City) is a free jazz drummer. He has recorded albums as a bandleader, with David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp and others.
Free jazz drummer Whit Dickey first stepped into the spotlight as a leader with the release of his Transonic album from Aum Fidelity in 1998. Two years later, Wobbly Rail issued his Big Top release. Previously, he was best known for his solid work with Matthew Shipp and David S. Ware, with whom Dickey split in 1996. Early the following year, the drummer began composing the works that would be included on Transonic. Dickey penned all but two songs, "Kinesis" and "Second Skin," on the collection, and he even had a hand in those with the help of his fellow musicians on the album. The original compositions give a nod to the influence of "Criss Cross" and "Off Minor" from the legendary Thelonious Monk. Dickey recorded the album with the aid of Rob Brown on flute and alto saxophone, and Chris Lightcap on bass. In 2001, Dickey recorded half a dozen of his compositions with Mat Maneri, Shipp, and Brown under the name Nommonsemble, and put out Life Cycle through Aum Fidelity.
Whit Dickey made a name for himself as the former drummer of David S. Ware's famous quartet. Since then Dickey's musical contributions have gone well beyond his work as Ware's drummer. He is capable of tremendous power and yet has the ability for subtle gesture. Dickey is a composer as well as a drummer and his music has reached new heights in his recent small group work, with a coterie of great musicians including alto saxophonist Rob Brown. He has been performing with Matthew Shipp since 1991 and continues to play and record with Roy Campbell Jr., Mat Maneri, Chris Lightcap and many others. Since 2007 Dickey has been focussing on developing an integrative improvisational style while working with Shipp's Trio.
Daniel Carter and Dickey recorded an album pianist Eri Yamamoto in 2008.
The album Art of the Improvisor from The Matthew Shipp Trio received much critical acclaim and was listed as one of the year's best of 2011. Dickey has started a cooperative unit with Sabir Mateen & Michael Bisio, which is another example of post- Coltrane integral unity, and is call Blood Trio.
Shipp, Bisio and Dickey have also been working with Ivo Perelman in various configurations."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whit_Dickey)
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• Show Bio for Mat Maneri
"Mat Maneri was born in 1969, and started studying violin at age five. He studied privately with Julliard String Quartet founder Robert Koff, and with bass virutuoso Miroslav Vitous. Mat received a full scholarship as the principal violinist at Walnut Hill High School, but left school to pursue a professional career in music. By 1990, Mat founded the critically acclaimed Joe Maneri Quartet with Randy Peterson. Mat started releasing records as a leader in 1996, and has developed four working ensembles. Pianists Paul Bley, Cecil Taylor, Matthew Shipp, and Borah Bergman have called upon Matt to perform with them in such venues as the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Library of Congress, and concert stages across Europe. Mat also enjoys a strong relationship with bassists Ed Schuller, Mark Dresser, William Parker, Michael Formanek, Barre Phillips, and John Lockwood. Never to be boxed in, Mat has also worked with Joe Morris, John Medeski, Tim Berne, Cecil McBee, T.K. Ramakrishnan, Franz Kogelman, Roy Campbell, Spring Heel Jack, Draze Hoops, and appears on an Illy B Eats remix CD. Mat presently teaches privately and through the New School / NYC, and performs and records worldwide."-Aum Fidelity (http://www.aumfidelity.com/maneri.html)
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• Show Bio for Matthew Shipp
"Matthew Shipp was born December 7, 1960 in Wilmington, Delaware. He started piano at 5 years old with the regular piano lessons most kids have experienced. He fell in love with jazz at 12 years old. After moving to New York in 1984 he quickly became one of the leading lights in the New York jazz scene. He was a sideman in the David S. Ware quartet and also for Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory before making the decision to concentrate on his own music.
Mr Shipp has reached the holy grail of jazz in that he possesses a unique style on his instrument that is all of his own- and he's one of the few in jazz that can say so. Mr. Shipp has recorded a lot of albums with many labels but his 2 most enduring relationships have been with two labels. In the 1990s he recorded a number of chamber jazz cds with Hatology, a group of cds that charted a new course for jazz that, to this day, the jazz world has not realized. In the 2000s Mr Shipp has been curator and director of the label Thirsty Ear's "Blue Series" and has also recorded for them. In this collection of recordings he has generated a whole body of work that is visionary, far reaching and many faceted."-Matthew Shipp Website (http://www.matthewshipp.com/bio.html)
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