Album Review: Inimitable and Flow of Everything | Chronogram Magazine

Album Review: Inimitable and Flow of Everything

New Records from Michael Bisio and Matthew Shipp.

Michael Bisio | Inimitable

(Mung Music Records)

Michael Bisio and Matthew Shipp | Flow of Everything

(Fundacja Sluchaj Records)

Kingston avant-garde bassist Michael Bisio plays jazz with an unrelenting edge. It's music that requires both intellectual ardor and stamina, and it asks, nay, demands, that the listener exert just as much effort and curiosity in hearing it as Bisio does in creating it. Two new opportunities exist to hear Bisio's protean skill on disc—one, Inimitable, an improvised solo effort; the other, Flow of Everything, a sparkling duo project with innovative pianist Matthew Shipp. Recorded on a February Thursday in Brooklyn in 2020, the former finds Bisio and his four strings by turns reflective and antic, marked as much by whirring, whistling arco, especially in the frantic "Hear Now," as by thrumming pizzicato. Delightfully human, "Quintessence"—peppered with finger squeaks, breathy laughs, is that a dog barking outside?—is a long conversation in a crowded room of one. With John Coltrane's "Wise One," Bisio, while occasionally slapping chords, searches out the space between the notes.

Flow, tracked at the same Park West studio, in April 2021, expands the chat by 88 keys. Deep in the album, for example, on the trance-like title track, Shipp's Monkish repetitions tangle with Bisio's upright. It might be an argument if it weren't so damn entrancing. The opener, "Flow," exhibits the lyrical freedom so second nature to both artists. Beginning, appropriately with Bisio's bowing, "Bow for Everyone" releases into a wide, stately piano harmony. And, penultimately, "Pockets" reshapes the dynamic, with Shipp, reaching to the bottom of the keyboard, in the lead.