East Axis: Cool With That (ESP-Disk’, 2021)

September 8, 2021 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

East Axis: Cool With That

This album documents a casual improv session between four jazz heavyweights (pianist Matthew Shipp, drummer Gerald Cleaver, saxophonist Allen Lowe, bassist Kevin Ray), each of whom challenge each other and push their fellow musicians into different spaces and states. The best moments are the ones where they throw caution to the wind and just scramble like mad, as on the fun, chaotic “Oh Hell I Forgot That”. “I’m Cool With That” has moments that seem straightforward but then it keeps careening wildly and bounding down various detours, to bewildering effect. Then “One” is a nearly half hour tour-de-force which shifts rhythms and moods, starting out more scattered and ruffled, and frequently erupting into bursts of energy. Even throughout its lengthy runtime, it rarely seems to let up, and just barely mellows out for the last few minutes before it bows out.

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