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REVIEWS :

The Uppercut | Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian duo reviews

Jungle | Mat Walerian Matthew Shipp Hamid Drake reviews


"Mat Walerian plays some of most lovely and relaxed uncompromised beauty that I have ever heard in a long time. Mat Walerian is one of the special ones (...) new music called Elusive Beauty (...) What do I call this music ? One word comes to mind : “Exquisite.” (...) Mat Walerian whose playing reminds me of the Japanese paintings of Sesshu, full of fine lines, images, and sounds that tell haiku-like stories, arresting and mysterious. (...) you can hear sound and space disrobe to reveal villages with beautiful clouds over trees laced with seraphic hues and birds dancing. I enjoyed this music on many levels; the more I listen to it, the more layers of brilliance I discover. (...) I invite you to enjoy it and learn how to cherish life." - William Parker, Live at Okuden liner notes


"Walerian is one of the most talented young jazz musicians on the Polish scene, if not the most talented. He runs several different projects as a leader, and his musical interests range from the contemporary musica da camera to jazz classics and free jazz, employing oriental scales along with free improvised music." - Maciej Lewenstein, "Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond"


"Walerian‘s playing is rooted in the early free-jazz, with heavy echoes of bluesy tone. His lines can be jazzy in the spirit of post-bop as well as angular and abstract, he goes for more direct approach on alto, while searching for more sonic shades on bass clarinet. He tends for modest and minimal, selecting carefully the means of his expression ... his playing (is) warm, very melodic, while not being afraid of some tone and timbre explorations. Fresh and inspiring is the contrast between the free-jazz boiling section behind him and his cool, thoughtful lines and very jazz phraseology, moving from blues, bebop, free-bop up to some not too extreme free improv.“ - (Free) Jazz Alchemist


“The music has a regal elegance, not too dark yet consistently enchanting. Nothing here is too dense, each note is well crafted and often touching. Mr. Walerian's tone on alto sax is immensely mature sounding and closer to the way some of the elder statesmen of tenor play, lush and sublime. A true consistency of excellence!” - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DOWNTOWN Music Gallery, New York


“Walerian distills all the genres of his influence into something profoundly genre-less (…) one can sense that beauty that reaches back decades to find the roots of jazz, where it coincides with the blues (…) even connects blues to the avant-garde. Walerian (on alto sax) plays liquid and outside in a very emotional, natural cadence, selectively picking his spots to get abrasive for maximal impact. He swings like a champ (…) he demonstrates a spare but elegiac quality while staying closely attuned. Mat Walerian — like his American partner Shipp — has so much to say musically with an uncommonly fresh vocabulary.” - S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews


“Roots and beyond in today's masters of freedom ... Walerian has roots in bluesiness and freedom. His playing on alto, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet and flute throughout the set has a clarion tone with a touch of breathiness. That and the rootsy-ness and soul of his stance opens up a complementary response in the considerably versatile Shipp.” - Gapplegate Music Review, New York


"Walerian emerges triumphantly as a virtuoso performer, with original ideas and a complete command of his instruments. His playing immediately earns him respect and admiration from connoisseurs of the genre and of course anticipation for his new projects (…) rare and beautiful example of avant-garde music, which transfers well to record, retaining its spirit and intimacy, which is often present live but gets lost when turned into a record.” - The Soundtrack of My Life, Adam Baruch, Israel


“Sophisticated enough to adopt individual playing strategies for each of his horns Walerian’s multiple identities encourage the pianist to vary his keyboard guises with chameleon-like color shifts.” - Ken Waxman, The New York City Jazz Record


“Like a method actor, Walerian portrays a different character on each horn, but the output is united in finding unique sounds (…) never abandoning underlying swing. (…) gradually hardens into a blues conception following Walerian’s rangy, elongated clarinet tone (…) evolves into a breathtaking display of complicit split tones, as the two deconstruct the melody as if it were a building being dynamited to smithereens, then rebuild the tune into a solid edifice for a sympathetic ending. Conventional and avant-garde simultaneously” - The WholeNote, Comprehensive guide to music, Toronto, Canada


"At times (…) they sound like youthful renegades breaking down barriers with the power of their sound. During others, they come across as wise elders (…) jaunty and joyous, encapsulating the sound of two superior musicians for whom age and cultural differences mean nothing.” - Michael Roberts, JAZZIZ Magazine The Authoriative Voice in Jazz


Walerian’s alto sax, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, and flute push Shipp in many directions, while adding an extraordinary range of colors and textures around the bright edginess and rich chords of the acoustic piano. There are lots of blues and bop intonations and songlike melodies to make these original boundary-bashing pieces accessible to mainstream listeners. Plenty of fractured harmonies, skittering rhythms, guttural honks, and high-register squeals as the moment moves them." - Derk Richardson, The Absolute Sound, The High End Journal of Audio & Music


“The like-minded pair coauthor a genuine statement of just that peace and respect. Highly recommended. (...) woody bass clarinet of Walerian. His tone is more relaxed then say Eric Dolphy’s, he seems unperturbed that his debut recording is with this modern master. (…) His saxophone recalls the breathy tone of Johnny Hodges." - Mark Corroto, All About Jazz


“While pianist Matthew Shipp has recorded a slew of head to heads with saxophonists, his duo - The Uppercut - with Polish reedman Mat Walerian is different. (…) In fact conversational exchange forms the main currency of the duet, in which Walerian’s free flowing legato contrasts with the pianist’s spiky staccato accompaniment. Walerian’s boppish bass clarinet opens alone on "Introduction,” before Shipp combines in sparkling lyrical vein, with bluesy undertones emanating from both. (…) Walerian’s alto spirals and soars above Shipp’s thunderous clusters before a gradual easing down to a subdued conclusion.“ - John Sharpe, AllAboutJazz


"Walerian’s lines are often short and precise, offering ideas, sketches, and suggestions. As William Parker suggests in his liner notes, this is not music of a certain style, but rather honest music making : “As the music progresses from clarinets to alto sax to flute, you can hear sound and space disrobe to reveal villages with beautiful clouds over trees laced with seraphic hues and birds dancing. The musicians are never concerned about style or genre.“ - Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective, Berlin


"(...) Selections, all originals, are notable not only for the adventurous playing but for the mood variations, the use of space and the constant interplay between the musicians. The selections with Walerian on bass clarinet (including the opening and closing pieces) are particularly effective. (...) dynamic performances are full of subtle surprises and unexpected moments. - Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene



about "Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian Duo"



"(...) Mat Walerian, whose playing reminds me of the Japanese paintings of Sesshu, full of fine lines, images, and sounds that tell haiku-like stories, arresting and mysterious. As the music progresses from clarinets to alto sax to flute, you can hear sound and space disrobe to reveal villages with beautiful clouds over trees laced with seraphic hues and birds dancing. The musicians are never concerned about style or genre. What do I call this music ? One word comes to mind : “Exquisite.” (...) This music is more concerned with poetics because it is poetics, not technique or academics, that will allow the music to go inside and change the soul of the listener. It is transcendence of music that will lead us to transcendence. I enjoyed this music on many levels; the more I listen to it, the more layers of brilliance I discover. (...) Mat Walerian plays some of most lovely and relaxed uncompromised beauty that I have ever heard in a long time. (...) the most important thing is that he is alive on the scene. Mat Walerian is one of the special ones, and along with Matthew Shipp they have created a new music called Elusive Beauty. I invite you to enjoy it and learn how to cherish life." - William Parker, Live at Okuden liner notes


"In duo, Walerian and Shipp spin complex, information-rich webs" - The Wire, Adventures In Music And Sound magazine, London UK


“The Uppercut | Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian Duo – Live at Okuden (ESP-Disk 5007; USA) Featuring Matt Shipp on piano and Mat Walerian on alto sax, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet & flute. (…) Although Mat Walerian is only in his early thirties, his playing sounds much more mature. Mr. Walerian wrote six of the ten pieces here, the rest are duo improvs. On the first piece, "Introduction", his tone on bass clarinet is rich and warm, slow and assured (a slowed down version of Eric Dolphy perhaps). He sounds like the perfect partner for Mr. Shipp, both men playing in superb balance and reverence. The music has a regal elegance, not too dark yet consistently enchanting. Nothing here is too dense, each note is well crafted and often touching. Mr. Walerian's tone on alto sax is immensely mature sounding and closer to the way some of the elder statesmen of tenor play, lush and sublime. Some folks complain that solo or duo efforts without a rhythm section are missing something for them but this is certainly not the case here. For me, this is perfect duo that works together as one charming force of nature. Even when they go further out, they do so as one combined spirit. A true consistency of excellence!” - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DOWNTOWN Music Gallery, New York


"In recent years, some of the most interesting and evocative jazz albums (…) have featured someone playing the bass clarinet slowly and carefully in a way that recalls some of the most interesting and evocative jazz albums of all time (…) Which may explain why, despite featuring the nimble, expressive, and yes interesting and evocative fingers of pianist Matthew Shipp, Live at Okuden really gets its mood, and thus its mojo, from the bass clarinet, alto sax, soprano clarinet, and flute playing of Mat Walerian. Recorded live on May 15, 2012, Live at Okuden is a moody masterpiece (…) in a way that's even more spartan (…) and most of the credit for this goes to Walerian (…) Shipp has never been afraid to veer into free jazz territory, though usually while his playmates stay the course, and here, both he and Walerian shows the same predilection. But the best moments on Okuden are the ones where the players are matched in mood and intent, and both are dark. Best typified by the songs "Introduction," "Black Rain," and "Blues for Acid Cold," Live at Okuden paints a picture in shades of black and grey, but with occasional bits of noisy dissonance. It's mournful, contemplative, and sad, and even when it is a bit aggro, it's still hauntingly beautiful. What's truly engaging about Live at Okuden, though, is how the songs flow from one to the next (...) to form a lengthy suite that ebbs and flows (...) In fact, the only bad thing I can say about Live at Okuden (...) is that it's the first, and so far only, recording these guys have made together. No matter. Because if the glorious sixty-seven-plus minutes of Live at Okuden is any indication, this won't be this twosome's last collaboration. I just hope I don't have to wait long until the next time they hit the "record" button." - Dusty Wright's Culture Catch


"Back in the 1960s “New Thing” heyday of highly improvisational jazz, the fledgling label ESP-Disk introduced to American and international audiences many new, acutely innovative artists such as Albert Ayler, Milford Graves, Giuseppi Logan, Sunny Murray and Henry Grimes. With its April 28, 2015 release of Live at Okuden by the Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian Duo, ESP seeks to do it again. (…) Walerian engaging in extemporaneous musical conversation with one of the acknowledged masters of the form, and easily makes his impact alongside his better-known brethren. Like Shipp, Walerian distills all the genres of his influence into something profoundly genre-less: “This music is more concerned with poetics because it is poetics, not technique or academics, that will allow the music to go inside and change the soul of the listener,” writes improvised music giant William Parker in his liner notes for this album. “Mat Walerian plays some of the most lovely and relaxed uncompromised beauty that I have ever heard in a long time.” Manning a bass clarinet on “Introduction,” one can sense that beauty that reaches back decades to find the roots of jazz, where it coincides with the blues (…) even connects blues to the avant-garde (…) Walerian (on alto sax) plays liquid and outside in a very emotional, natural cadence, selectively picking his spots to get abrasive for maximal impact. He swings like a champ (…) he demonstrates a spare but elegiac quality while staying closely attuned to Shipp’s ever-evolving mood. Mat Walerian — like his American partner Shipp — has so much to say musically with an uncommonly fresh vocabulary. As a vehicle for this promising talent, Live at Okuden makes good on that promise." - S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews


“The like-minded pair coauthor a genuine statement of just that peace and respect. Highly recommended. (...) Jane Austen was mistaken when she wrote "Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.” Passing away at the age of 41 in 1817, she would not have had the opportunity to hear either jazz, nor the music of Matthew Shipp and Mat Walerian. Shipp has played in the duo format before with horn players, notably with Roscoe Mitchell and Rob Brown (…) Where past sessions were often defined by friction (a successful improvising strategy), this session is cloaked with a feeling of amity and warmth. The concert opens with the woody bass clarinet of Walerian (…) His tone is more relaxed then say Eric Dolphy’s, he seems unperturbed that his debut recording is with this modern master. (…) The two alto saxophone pieces, “Free Bop Statement One” and “Free Bop Statement Two” carom and bounce with Shipp’s spry, buoyant lines and Walerian giving chase. His saxophone recalls the breathy tone of Johnny Hodges. “Love And The Other Species” is a soulful semi-blues and “It’s Sick Out There” ploughs a bit of delirium into the mix with its rush of emotion. The pianist plies his familiar exploratory hand to “Peace And Respect,” that opens up into Walerian’s meditation." - Mark Corroto, All About Jazz


"Matthew Shipp, the supreme jazz pianist of his generation, and Mat Walerian, the finest Polish jazz woodwind player of his, have combined their talents in concert on several occasions. This album documents one such instance, from May 2012. Shipp hardly needs an introduction at this point thanks to a career of over a quarter century, including not only many acclaimed albums under his own name but also a long and prominent tenure in the David S. Ware Quartet (...) Walerian is the younger of the two, and because of that and Americans' myopia about foreign jazz masters, many jazz fans are not as familiar with his work as they are with Shipp's. (...) One listen to this album should convince everyone of the imaginative depth of his musical vision and the likelihood that he will soon be counted among the avant-jazz scene's international stars. Largely self-taught and deeply immersed in Eastern philosophy, his approach to improvisation is unique and compelling. - ESP-Disk'


“The reed work of Mat Walerian really warms up the piano of Matthew Shipp here – as Mat provides these beautiful lines on alto, bass clarinet, flute, and soprano clarinet – which have a resonant quality that really seems to open up Shipp’s music too! We’ve really moved back towards enjoying Shipp in recent years – and the sense of persona in records like this is a good reason why – almost a renewed soul that we haven’t heard in years, unlocked in the right setting like this.” - Dusty Groove, Chicago


“ROOTS AND BEYOND IN TODAY’S MASTERS OF FREEDOM”. The music of today continues. It continues in a seminal gathering of the central piano playing of Matthew Shipp and his duo-mate for the album at hand, Polish reedist Mat Walerian (…) gives us a good 70 minutes of the two exploring freely and creatively some common ground. Walerian has roots in bluesiness and freedom. His playing on alto, bass clarinet, alto clarinet and flute throughout the set has a clarion tone with a touch of breathiness. That and the rootsy-ness and soul of his stance opens up a complementary response in the considerably versatile Shipp. So we get a freedom strongly colored with a certain sanctification that is a very good thing to hear. (...) Mat Walerian opens up his phrasings to long-form horizontal constructions that complement what Matt is doing, and too on occasion lingers over a phrase now and again before moving ahead. This is a very strong duo session that confirms Shipp as one of the important original piano masters of today, a player who uniquely channels the history of the music into his own free approach. And Walerian complements and feeds into that slipstream of past and present that Matt deals with so well. (...) Then there is Matthew in his second aspect: moving ahead with where he is now. Mat Walerian in a duo setting seems very timely though because Shipp seems to be recharging his present by revisiting roots and Walerian has that way about him right now, too. At the same time there is space for the “moving ahead” to be heard here as well. And Walerian follows with creative playing responses in both situations. And so the melding of the two on this date seems especially right. If a pedal-point in the bass and fourth chordings remind us that the present also has roots in nearer past masters there is no contradiction, especially when neither Matthew nor Mat are quoting as much as making it personal and new. None of us comes down from the sky. We all make that of what we hear into something we can hear differently, given much preparation and talent. That’s what in part is so phenomenally creative about Matthew Shipp’s playing. It not only goes out, it comes out of somewhere with a clear original direction. Mat Walerian has that about him, too. So that makes for some great duet interactions. Listen and feel the strength of this music! - Gapplegate Music Review, New York


"Walerian emerges triumphantly as a virtuoso performer, with original ideas and a complete command of his instruments. His playing on this album immediately earns him respect and admiration from connoisseurs of the genre and of course anticipation for his new projects. This album is a rare and beautiful example of avant-garde music, which transfers well to record, retaining its spirit and intimacy, which is often present live but gets lost when turned into a record (…) There is a rare and almost telepathic dialogue between the two musicians, exchanging phrases, notes and rhythmic gestures between them, as if those were rehearsed or preconceived, which is pretty rare. The music is incredibly fresh and inviting, and although it is definitely free spirited and highly improvised, it also offers a strong melodic content, which makes it accessible to a much wider audiences than the usual avant-garde recordings, which can be self-centered and sound cold to listeners. Both musicians play gently and cooperatively, avoiding any power struggles which often characterize duo recordings. This music is fully harmonious and inspirational, a true example of the “Art of the Duo” idea. Overall this is one of the best avant-garde albums I listened to lately, which deserves all the praise it can get and hopefully will reach as many open minded listeners as possible. An absolute delight ! - The Soundtrack of My Life, Adam Baruch, Israel


“While pianist Matthew Shipp has recorded a slew of head to heads with saxophonists, his duo - The Uppercut - with Polish reedman Mat Walerian is different. (…) Although Walerian comes from a generation younger than Shipp, they have formed a strong bond evidenced by several tours in Poland and another recording in the can with master drummer Hamid Drake. (…) While the familiar tropes which make Shipp such a distinctive stylist remain in place, he pursues them without the single mindedness that characterizes his own dates, thereby allowing ample room for Walerian to shine. (…) In fact conversational exchange forms the main currency of the duet, in which Walerian’s free flowing legato contrasts with the pianist’s spiky staccato accompaniment. (…) Although separated into individual cuts, the first five pieces flow together. Walerian’s boppish bass clarinet opens alone on "Introduction,” before Shipp combines in sparkling lyrical vein, with bluesy undertones emanating from both. (…) “Love And The Other Species” which represents the high point of the recital, as Walerian’s alto spirals and soars above Shipp’s thunderous clusters before a gradual easing down to a subdued conclusion.“ - John Sharpe, AllAboutJazz


"Nouveauté. Malgré le décès de son fondateur Bernard Stollman, le label ESP Disk’ continue sa route, alternant nouveautés et rééditions. Appartenant à la première catégorie, cet album nous permet de découvrir le pluri-soufflant polonais Mat Walerian. Matthew Shipp s’illustre régulièrement en compagnie de saxophonistes, aux Etats-Unis comme en Europe : Darius Jones, John Butcher, Evan Parker… Sitôt une Introduction très rythmée on sent le pianiste heureux de dialoguer avec un partenaire désireux de faire ses preuves. Sans que son style soupe au lait s’en trouve affadi, l’aîné s’applique à la mise en lumière de ce nouvel associé, qui signe ou cosigne la plupart des compositions, dont certaines qualifiées de 'free bop' On est fasciné par le déroulement de Black Rain, plage onirique sur laquelle Walerian passe d’un instrument à l’autre tandis que Shipp dompte le clavier en maniant la caresse et le fouet, tirant aussi des cordes balayées et pincées des sonorités proches du cymbalum. La salle de concert confère une légère réverbération au piano, nullement gênante. Un Encore décapant se charge de secouer ceux qui se croyaient à l’abri. S’il convainc sur les clarinettes soprano et basse, c’est surtout par un jeu d’alto puissamment expressif que Walerian se distingue. Avec cet opus inaugural (resté trois ans dans les tiroirs, tout de même), il dessine une carte grand format, riche de directions potentielles. William Parker réitère à son sujet, dans ses notes de pochette, la primauté de la poésie sur la technique et l’académisme ; ne comptez pas sur moi pour lui donner tort. - ***** 5 stars by David Cristol, Jazz Magazine France


Live at Okuden exemplifies the possibilities of the duo. Shipp is in great form and the album is a nice introduction to Walerian’s imaginative playing. (…) I find the recording both relaxing and invigorating. Some of the more intense moments (…) reveals the duo’s comfort with the many guises of ‘jazz’. (…) I began listening to Matthew Shipp in the early 2000s (…) Whether solo, in a duo or with his long standing trio with Whit Dickey and Michael Bisio, his playing is always striking, and the same it true here in this duo with Mat Walerian. (…) Walerian’s lines are often short and precise, offering ideas, sketches, and suggestions. As William Parker suggests in his liner notes, this is not music of a certain style, but rather honest music making : “As the music progresses from clarinets to alto sax to flute, you can hear sound and space disrobe to reveal villages with beautiful clouds over trees laced with seraphic hues and birds dancing. The musicians are never concerned about style or genre.“ - Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective, Berlin


“Typisk for Shipp er nysgjerrigheten på andre stilretninger enn jazzen. Samtidsmusikk, hip hop og elektronika er områder han har utforsket med stort hell. Samarbeid med DJ Spooky og Antipop Consortium kan nevnes i en slik sammenheng. På Live at Okuden spiller Shipp med den polske komponisten, saksofonisten, klarinettisten og fløytisten Mat Walerian. De utgjør en god kombinasjon. I likhet med pianisten liker Walerian seg i skjæringen mellom mainstream og fritt improvisert jazz. Han har studert klassisk japansk og indisk musikk, og det har satt spennende spor. De to utøverne har åpenbart en felles forståelse av hva som gjelder. Den selvkomponerte musikken låter fokusert og utvungen. Duoen evner å gi uttrykket et midtpunkt og en ballast som formidler stødighet. Når Walerian tar frem bassklarinetten og Shipp trer inn i akkompagnatørens rolle, spiller de med overlegen vitalitet. Jeg har levd med Matthew Shipps kvaliteter i tiår og opplever samarbeidet med Mat Walerian som forfriskende.” - ***** 5 stars by Arild R. Andersen, Aftenposten Norway


“In the 1960s and early ‘70s, ESP was one of the most important of the avant-garde jazz labels. It documented many of jazz’s most advanced improvisers (including Albert Ayler, Patty Waters and Paul Bley) in innovative performances. During the past few years ESP has been reborn. In addition to its reissues, ESP has been recording new music that would have fit in well during its prime period. The Uppercut teams together pianist Matthew Shipp with Mat Walerian (who plays alto, bass clarinet, flute and clarinet). Their ten selections, all originals, are notable not only for the adventurous playing but for the mood variations, the use of space and the constant interplay between the musicians. The selections with Walerian on bass clarinet (including the opening and closing pieces) are particularly effective. Shipp, who is capable of playing dense atonal music, is also not shy to include melodic stretches, bluesiness and tenderness. The duo’s dynamic performances are full of subtle surprises and unexpected moments. The Uppercut is an excellent outing for both of the players.” - Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene


"Disparate definitions of tension and release define Live at Okuden. Sophisticated enough to adopt individual playing strategies for each of his horns (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet and flute), Walerian’s multiple identities encourage the pianist to vary his keyboard guises. With chameleon-like color shifts, pieces such as “Free Bop Statement One” and “Free Bop Statement Two” bring out a clipped Chopin-esque formalism in the pianist with mazurka-like flourishes imbued with jazz feelings, the better to meet the alto saxophonist’s Benny Carter-like sweetness. Skipping forward a century but backwards in jazz chronology, Walerian’s rangy clarinet lines on “Blues for Acid Cold” appear primitivist enough to come from Johnny Dodds. Shipp’s response is updated Jelly Roll Morton, with the strummed melody thoroughly modern, but with a touch of ‘20s blues. Meanwhile “It’s Sick out There”, like the former tune composed by Walerian, plunges the two into a complicated and mercurial conversation. Smearing and spitting split tones with wild animal abandon, the saxophonist’s stretched sound is as atonal here as it was wistful on “Blues for Acid Cold” while the pianist’s splashing interpolations of multiple cadenzas doesn’t prevent the two from gliding to a heart-beat-linked ending. Detailing is etched into “Black Rain”, the album’s most representative track. Both conventional and free, the nearly 17-minute excursion is reminiscent of a garment being created by flighty designers. No sooner is another detail added to the simple structure than an additional flounce or bow is sewn on as well. Initial keyboard dusting and unaccented air breaths are swiftly ornamented by skipping piano melodies plus a near-smothering blanket of clarinet glissandi. By the time alluring apparel has been created, supplementary sonic trim is added via flute puffs and lyrical keyboard and inner string detailing. The garb is striking, but much altered from its initial pattern. - Ken Waxman, The New York City Jazz Record


“At times (…) they sound like youthful renegades breaking down barriers with the power of their sound. During others, they come across as wise elders (…) The piece is jaunty and joyous, encapsulating the sound of two superior musicians for whom age and cultural differences mean nothing. Pianist Matthew Shipp and saxophonist / clarinetist / flutist Mat Walerian hail from different generations and different nations. The Delaware-born Shipp is north of 50; the Polish-born Walerian, barely 30. Yet, throughout The Uppercut : Live at Okuden, they’re uncannily in tune with each other. The moniker slapped on “Introduction” hardly does justice to the swinging first track. Walerian coaxes a saucy tone from his reed as Shipp vamps behind him in a straightforward (for him) manner that barely hints at his avant-garde bona fides. Likewise, “Blues for Acid Cold” sticks with the title form more assiduously than might be expected. That changes when Shipp’s left-hand thunder plunges the pair into “Jungle Meditation” and a couple of “Free Bop” statements that find Walerian channeling New Orleans by way of Eastern Europe. The adventure continues on “It’s Sick Out There”, an aural joust during which Walerian races to keep up with Shipp’s speediest fingerwork, and on “Love and Other Species”, which is marked by the session’s wildest, most passionate playing. “Peace and Respect” and “Black Rain” are more pastoral in comparison, yet no less creatively rigorous. When Shipp veers into a martial pattern on the latter, Walerian finds a complementary approach so quickly that it soon becomes impossible to determine who’s leading whom. Was Walerian’s subsequent decision to switch to the flute the inspiration for Shipp to paint with more delicate colors ? Or did it happen the other way around ? And does it really matter ? - Michael Roberts, JAZZIZ Magazine The Authoriative Voice in Jazz


"Sparse sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in a new music recital, the two confirm their versatility and the vitality of the disc. (…) Ten selections on Live at Okuden document fulfilling rapport between the two. (…) the output is united in finding unique sounds (…) never abandoning underlying swing. A duo consisting of American pianist Matthew Shipp and Polish multi-reedist Mat Walerian illustrates another collaborative application. Like a method actor, Walerian portrays a different character on each horn, but the output is united in finding unique sounds. Because of this, Shipp’s narratives encompass everything from multi-note Art Tatum-like emphasis, out-and-out abstract key and string ratcheting reflecting both new music and free music, shaggy keyboard carpets of Chopin-like recital-ready intermezzos and primitive blues and early jazz echoes. The last is apparent on Blues for Acid Cold where a restrained lounge-like exposition from Shipp gradually hardens into a blues conception following Walerian’s rangy, elongated clarinet tone. In contrast, what begins with the pianist and alto saxophonist propelling slick mainstream timbres at one another on Love and Other Species ... evolves into a breathtaking display of complicit split tones, as the two deconstruct the melody as if it were a building being dynamited to smithereens, then rebuild the tune into a solid edifice for a sympathetic ending. Conventional and avant-garde simultaneously, Black Rain may be the CD’s most evocative track. A soothing duet, characterized by gentle keyboard patterning and graceful bass clarinet breathing, as if Shipp and Walerian were a long-time married couple finishing each other’s sentences, it’s suddenly ripped apart and replaced with Shipp’s key clips and harp-like piano string strums hewing out an ascending sonic path and Walerian’s intermittent tongue stops and flute peeps. Concluded with sparse sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in a new music recital, the two confirm their versatility and the vitality of the disc. - The WholeNote, Comprehensive guide to music, Toronto, Canada


“This is an album where the line between improvisation and composition blurs, due in part to the way the two communicate (…) Walerian’s clarinets create some of the album’s finest moments (…) they nearly stretch out into a chamber music duo. Those looking for a new diversion in Shipp’s ever-growing discography are encouraged to start here. Shipp has recorded duo albums with several reed players, like saxophonists Rob Brown, Darius Jones (…) Poland native Mat Walerian actually plays a Dolphy-esque arsenal of reeds on his meeting with Shipp : bass clarinet, alto saxophone, soprano clarinet and flute. “Blues for Acid Cold” (which doesn’t resemble a traditional blues) begins with an introspective Shipp solo before Walerian’s b-flat reed makes its entrance. (The latter receives sole writing credit on this one, for the record.) The 16-minute “Black Rain” finds the duo so comfortable with each other that they nearly stretch out into a chamber music duo. Those looking for a new diversion in Shipp’s ever-growing discography are encouraged to start here. - ShanleyOnMusic


"As Matthew Shipp’s catalog expands, so does our understanding of the depth and breadth of his genious (…) His duo dates – with William Parker, Joe Morris, Michael Bisio, Rob Brown, Mat Maneri, Roscoe Mitchell, Sabir Mateen, Darius Jones, Evan Parker, and here, Polish reed player Mat Walerian – are especially revealing. (…) Walerian’s alto sax, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, and flute push Shipp in many directions, while adding an extraordinary range of colors and textures around the bright edginess and rich chords of the acoustic piano. There are lots of blues and bop intonations and songlike melodies to make these original boundary-bashing pieces accessible to mainstream listeners. But Shipp, 54, and his de facto protégé Walerian, 28 (Walerian was 28 when the album was recorded in 2012), throw in plenty of fractured harmonies, skittering rhythms, guttural honks, and high-register squeals as the moment moves them. Other than the applause preceding the encore, you might forget that this is a concert date, though the roomy sound of the piano and the palpably spontaneous creative energy feel totally live. - Derk Richardson, The Absolute Sound, The High End Journal of Audio & Music


about "Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian Duo" [ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]


"Obviously, M-Theory project of Mateusz has little to do with quantum gravity. It is, however, indeed strongly based on the idea of total unification: Mat and Matt form an artistic unity of unprecedented intensity. This is evidently one of the best Polish jazz recordings of the last 20 years."


"In all the parts Walerian plays very clear tones, without overblows, yet full of expression and emotion. To some extend the music reminds a little the late experiments of Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Bley - it is, however, clearly contemporary (…) whatever the associations are, however, the over 15 minutes long suite is clearly a masterpiece."


"After the suite come two short improvisations for alto and piano, “Free Bob Statement 1 and 2”, that illustrate amazing chemical bonds between the two musicians and their mutual understanding and unity."


"Free Bop Statements” are followed by the 4 compositions of Walerian. “It’s Sick Out There” and “Love and Other Specie” are for piano and sax, and are perhaps the most expressive and sentimental of the set. On “Peace and Respect” and “Black Rain” Walerian is back on bass clarinet. The latter, 16 minutes long, is breathtaking. It is not only virtuoso piece in the technical sense - it is also explosion of emotions and feelings. Walerian proves that he is one of the best bass clarinetist around, and he shows also his mastery on Bb clarinet and flute."


"As a whole, this set is a true masterpiece and super important recording not only for Polish jazz!!!"

[ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]




about "Mat Walerian Matthew Shipp Hamid Drake trio"



“Okuden isn’t so much a place as a state of mind … A place where the heaviest of the heavy current giants of jazz convene to lay out some of the most epic jams.” - Marty Slattery, Tiny Mix Tapes


“Mat Walerian, the last artist to be approved for ESP-DISK by the late Bernard Stollman, returns with a sophomore collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp, featuring drummer Hamid Drake, that recalls the classic sound of the legendary label ... Like the previous Live at Okuden that first documented Walerian and Shipp as a duo, this performance at Poland’s Okuden Music Concert Series finds the musicians in a perfect fluid zen where music arises purely from air, space and inspiration ... Together, the trio builds a city of sound, hot and bustling at times, yet cool and peaceful when no one is looking ... Where screech and skronk seem to be mostly associated with free music, Walerian, Shipp and Drake only get there when the signs point in that direction. For them, it’s a mode of transportation, not a destination. They’d rather enjoy the ride and see where it goes than insist on a goal. Follow their trail and see where it takes you." - Chuck Foster, The Big Takeover, New York


“Almost out of nowhere Walerian emerges as one of the most versatile and virtuosic players in the Free Jazz / Improvised Music genre. His rapport with the genre´s veterans, Shipp and Drake, is almost hard to believe and sounds as if they have been playing together for ages. His ability to create a wide range of atmospheres and moods, his usage of a range of instruments and last but not least his ability to write subtle melodic lines, which than serve as vehicles for collective improvisation is nothing short of extraordinary. Walerian´s debut was one of the strongest album releases of last year (2015) and this follow up is certainly another worthy contestant for this year´s top of the crop. Of course a trio recording is above all a joint venture between the trio members, which in this case works out like a dream. Shipp and Drake must be admired for their deliberate restrain and amicable attitude, which allows Walerian to present his often delicate statements without disturbance. Shipp´s supportive chord structures allow Walerian to spread his wings and blow his heart out, having a steady and reliable basis behind him. In many respects this is similar to McCoy Tyner´s playing behind John Coltrane during the heydays of the Quartet. Drake, who can be a very powerful and dominant drummer, also limits his creative support to supporting the music´s rhythmic layer, ornamenting it rather than leading it. Overall the collective effort is simply perfect for this outstanding piece of music. As already stated, this album is definitely one of the strongest statements released so far this year and a wonderful example of contemporary Art of music, a manifestation of human ingenuity and talent of rare significance. Obviously this album deserves to be heard by as many music connoisseurs as possible, who will be blessed by its significance if let into their hearts. - Adam Baruch, The Soundtrack of My Life, Israel


“Probably Walerian’s greatest attribute is allowing the notes and the phraseology come to him, sizing up each moment and jumping in when the water is just right (…) never failing to swing during his inside/outside soliloquy. (…) Within that commentary, Parker notes that a master musician is not a musician who knows every thing about music, like preordained harmonies, rhythms, or melodies.” Rather, “the informed musician knows enough to let music be music on its own terms.” It’s something that Mat Walerian seems to understand instinctively on Jungle, even as he still manages to show he knows much about the tenants of music and in the presence of more established masters. - S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews


“A new recording for the legendary ESP label – and one that definitely continues in the best tradition of their avant jazz sides from the 60s and 70s! - Dusty Groove, Chicago


“What makes everything on Live at Okuden work, and well, is not just the interplay between Walerian, Shipp, and Drake — who lock together like they’ve been together for years — but also their strengths as individuals. But on both this and the previous Live at Okuden album, it’s Walerian who seems to brings out the best in his coworkers by playing with the kind of skill, care, and style that Jimmy Giuffre had when he, pianist Paul Bley, and bassist Steve Swallow recorded Fusion and Thesis as the Jimmy Giuffre 3. Still, this second album called Live at Okuden is ultimately just as strong as the first, which is saying a lot given how the the first has become one of my favorite jazz albums, and is the most unique jazz album I’d heard since 1998. - Paul Semel , paulsemel.com


“Polish reed player Mat Walerian is one of those rare musicians whose approach seems to span several eras of jazz history, sometimes even within the same solo. Like Walerian, Shipp is primarily an outside/free player, but both are of the generation of ‘out cats’ that can embrace rhythmic impetus, congenial inside playing and influences outside jazz. Jungle juxtapose the cool with the hot, wild ‘n’ wooliness with elegance and gentle introspection with purifying proclamations. - Mark Keresman, The New York City Jazz Record


“This is present-day music in the grand ESP tradition (…) It’s a winner, hands down! (…) the whole set is very worth having, for the coherency and committed travels of three of the very best new-new thing practitioners of the high art. Once again Mat Walerian establishes his presence as an avant reedist with some fire-y blues and roots in his soul. On alto, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet and flute he holds his own with the seminal pianist Matthew Shipp and the drummer legend Hamid Drake. - Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review, New York



about "JUNGLE : Mat Walerian Matthew Shipp Hamid Drake " [ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]



"Jungle is incomparable to anything else. Similarly as "M-Theory", it is an artistic achievement of the highest possible standard. I practically never pray, but in this case I do pray that both of these concert sets will be released on records soon!"


"His understanding and synergy with the other members of the trio, his expression and dynamism, richness of sound, technique combined with sensitivity are unbelievable and out of this world. On top if you ask me who does he remind, my answer is he reminds the most Chicagoan sound of... Mat Walerian."


"Wow. The Jungle Project has had its premiere on 19th November 2012. One hour and forty minutes of pure delight. Obviously, Shipp and Drake belong the best free jazz musicians in their categories in the world. I dare to say that Walerian too."


"Jungle is obviously a joint project … it is a project whose name explains the meaning of the music : the joint point of view and the largest inspiration of the members of the trio, that is unconditional and absolute love of nature. The music is though to show impression of wildlife, animals, fauna, flora, all of the natural phenomena. It is a very organic project, in the very biological meaning of this word. Mother Nature, Mother Earth. Already in this description one can feel the spirit of John Coltrane, and indeed the music belongs clearly to the post-Coltrane tradition."


"What is so special about "Jungle"? Well, first of all such a recording of one or one and a half hour long concert, that is a continuous and uniform flow of beauty, intensity and expression is not a frequent thing in the jazz history."


"The examples that come to my mind, and this is not an exaggeration in any sense, are : John Coltrane's "The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings", or Miles Davis' "The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965". If we ignore the beauty aspect, and focus on the strength of expression only the appropriate association is to John Coltrane's "Live at Seattle" with John Coltrane on soprano and tenor, Pharoah Sanders on tenor McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, Elvin Jones on drums and Donald Garrett on bass clarinet and bass."


"It is hard to talk about the culmination of this recordings - they provide an never ending culmination indeed."

[ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]




"SAINTHUNTER : Mat Walerian Tim Dahl Hamid Drake" [ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]



"The group continues strongly with "Just Drop It In New Orleans", with clear blues and traditional jazz inspirations. Walerian starts on Bb clarinet and evoking the tradition of the best genuine clarinetists - from Benny Goodman, through Jimmy Giuffre to Europeans : Luis Sclavis, Michel Portal."


"The Force, Energy and Synergy are again there, and are just breathtaking."

[ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]




about “Matthew Shipp with Mat Walerian trio" [ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]



"Extremely important document of the Polish New Thing, worth getting and listening to it for any price !"

[ M. Lewenstein “Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond” ]




other reviews



"The modern face of jazz appears before your very eyes, and ears, this month, thanks to two huge names in the biz, Matthew Shipp and Mat Walerian, and their M-Theory Project. Playing piano since the age of five, Shipp joined the David S Ware quartet in the late 80s and later worked with William Parker, Roscoe Mitchell, Mat Maneri, Rob Brown, and others. Self-taught woodwind master – including saxophone, clarinet and flute – Walerian (29) has not been on the jazz scene that long. What that means for his music, however, is an improvised yet modern take on nearly all genres. Together, their M-Theory Project is “fantastic music, worth getting and listening to for any price!" - What's On Kiev [ Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian duo ]


"Na pocz±tek co¶ z górnej pó³ki, czyli koncert trzech wirtuozów ... Czy trzeba czego¶ wiêcej?" - onet.kultura [ Mat Walerian Trio ]


"Okuden Music - muzyka bez ograniczeñ ... (koncert) by³ prawdziw± uczt± dla ka¿dego fana muzyki improwizowanej. Czwórka muzyków zagra³a tego wieczoru w dwóch konfiguracjach ... (projekt) Lotus by³ seansem klimatycznych i melancholijnych brzmieñ ... Sainthunter doprowadzi³ do muzycznej orgii ... " - konsumencikultury


"Duet Walerian/ Shipp przebada granice jazzu" - Gazeta Wyborcza [ Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian duo ]


"Shipp i Walerian, czyli jazz kreatywny" - kulturaonline.pl [ Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian duo ]


"Zen jest akustycznym triem kreuj±cym now± jako¶æ w muzyce jazzowej" - magazyn Kultura [ trio Zen ]


"Najciekawszym, bezprecedensowym wrêcz akcentem eksperymentalnego w±tku imprezy by³ wszak¿e otwieraj±cy drugi wieczór wystêp tria Zen ... Wykreowa³o ono oryginalny seans d¼wiêkowej kontemplacji, miêdzy blisk± powa¿nego aleatoryzmu swobodn± improwizacj±, narracjami saksofonowymi o genezie coltrane'owskiej, a egzotycznym folkiem, czy wrêcz klasyczna muzyka hindusk± ... " - Jazz Forum The European Jazz Magazine [ trio Zen ]