the core trio live featuring matthew shipp

the core trio

  • 1 set l (31:11)
  • 2 set ll (34:26)

Album Info

total playing time: 65:37

recorded live by ryan edwards, november 22, 2014
at ovations night club, houston, texas, usa
mixed by ryan edwards
mastered by paul connolly
at brightbluebeetle studio, houston, texas, usa

all compositions by paynter/ shipp/ helton/ hertenstein, © buma

design: lysander le coultre (strangelove creatives)
photography: monique besten
evil rabbit records is a member of


  • Pierre Durr, september 2018, Revue & Corrigée

    L’un des labels les plus ouverts être Evil Rabbit Records, au point qu’il édite aussi des rencontres au sein desquelles ne pointe aucun musicien résident, et don’t les captations n’ont meme pas eu lieu sur le sol néerlandais. (…)

    The Core Trio, germano-américain, propose deux musiciens Texans, Seth Paynter (saxophone tenor) et Thomas Helton (contrebasse), associés au batteur allemand Joe Hertenstein, tout en invitant Matthew Shipp. Capté lors d’une prestation à Houston, il y a quatre ans, ce quartet (de fait) se défoule lors de deux sets marqués certes par le jeu audacieux, percussif et volubile, un brin taylorien, de Matthew Shipp, mais en parfaite symbiose avec ses trois partenaires. Le premier set apparaît plus expansif, à côté d’un second plus feutré, presque introspectif quoique toujours vigoureux.

  • Robert Iannapollo, july – September 2017, cadence magazine

    The approaches to free improvisations are many and varied. It's not the screaming monolithic caterwaul that its detractors like to characterize it as. There are many, varied approaches to the music. Below are two worthwhile recent recordings that demonstrate two different ways musicians approach free improvisation. (…)
    The Core Trio has been an ongoing improvising unit since 2004. Based in Houston they consisted of saxophonist Seth Paynter, bassist Thomas Helton and original drummer Richard Cholakian. Cholakian left the group after their first recording, a collaboration with pianist Robert Boston. He was replaced by Joe Hertenstein and they've been going strong ever since. They self-released several records, including an earlier collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp. They've been playing in New York and have also collaborated with trombonist Steve Swell. But back home, they've been keeping the flame of free improvisation burning brightly.
    Live Featuring Matthew Shipp is a second recording with the pianist. Shipp has his own vision and has carved several distinctive niches in his own output. But he always seems game for collaborations with others and it's nice to see him work with this ensemble. They seem eminently suited to each other and this disc demonstrates that strongly. It consists of two unedited improvisations, the first lasting approximately 31 minutes, the second 35 minutes. The first springs from an opening bass solo that gradually accrues energy. Soon Shipp jumps in with a web of knotty chords and Hertenstein joins in for a piano trio section that continues to the five minute mark. The energy builds to a pitch before dissipating, Shipp plays a few chords and Paynter enters at the five minute mark. These are clearly musicians attuned to each other. They know when to lay back and when to jump in. During the second improv, after a particularly heated section, around 13 minute mark there is an abrupt group stop. Shipp plays a delicate, gauzy piano figure joined by Helton playing arco which evolves into an extended quiet section. That speaks to the high level group interaction. But it also demonstrates how they know that expressing themselves softly can be as effective as a full bore charge. Both sets are characterized by these principles. It's clear the Core Trio has developed a refined group approach free improvisation that can easily incorporate guests as well have them go on their own merry way as a trio. Houston is lucky to have them. And Holland's Evil Rabbit label was smart in releasing this.

  • ken waxman, 4 june 2017,

    sports announcers and other chroniclers of the minutiae of recreational challenges often muse about the effects of home turf advantages verses road situations when aiming for winning outcomes. however it’s evident that improvising musicians are made of sterner stuff. with peripatetic schedules that make the itineraries of pro ball teams resemble childhood walks around the block, they usually score no matter where they’re playing.
    if there were jazz musician collectors’ cards, new york pianist matthew ship would certainly rate one, complete with status and stats. a recent quartet disc, recorded in houston with that city’s core trio plus the newest disc with his working trio confirm his consistent inventiveness. like monotheistic prophets among the philistines, members of the core trio, tenor saxophonist seth paynter and bassist thomas helton have been preaching the gospel of free jazz since 2004. recently new york-based drummer joe hertenstein joined the band, and to cement the line up, the group recorded this home town concert with visiting mvp shipp. although circumstances may have suggested a houston rockets vs new york knicks face-off, instead the four function as interlocking pieces in a lego set.
    shipp, whose past associates have included heavy-hitters like bassist william parker, saxophonist assif tsahar and drummer gerald cleaver, easily outputs corrosive pianism that’s an amalgam of contrasting dynamics, comforting connective note cascades and runs that relate to bedrock boogie-woogie keyboard disposition as much as abstract sound exploration. although the result may suggest an amalgam of sergei rachmaninoff and art tatum, unlike some sports superstars the pianist doesn’t showboat to emphasis his skills. good thing too. for helton’s vibrating bass line fastens onto the bottom like a puppy with a slipper, as hertenstein’s thick pumps, thrusts and rolls keep the time solid as well as polychromatic. of the ayler-trane lineage, paynter’s overblowing, flutter tonguing and split-tone gurgles not only produce thematic variations to the nth power, but also mix it up head-to-head with kinetic cross-over from the pianist and/or drummer. anchored by sympathetic double-bass pumps, hard piano action and altissimo reed whistles lead “before the break” to a pinnacle of clashing intensity, the band pauses, and then pick things up again “after the break”. almost more torqued, with the sax lines essaying a higher-pitched orientalized cast, like a star player challenging a rookie, shipp’s jumping cascades almost overpower paynter’s multiphonics on the second track. however as crackling interjections from the bassist reorient the theme the second half reverses the interface, with shipp’s chording turning processional and paynter’s reductionist puffs almost gentle. a last-minute near-baroque piano pile-up keeps the tempo and track staccato and serious to the end.

  • ian sherred, 1 june 2017, the sound projector

    (…) the core trio are a trio plus one – seth paynter on tenor sax, thomas helton on double bass, joe hertenstein on drums and fourth member matthew shipp on piano. the piano takes more of a central role here, as shipp uses all twenty of his fingers to unleash whirlwinds of notes and stentorian chords over two long tracks.
    these guys can bring the skronk with the best of them, and generally speaking, this is jazz of the austere, furrow-browed and bracing variety. but every so often they drop into limpid pastoral interludes. imagine jerry lee lewis dropping debussy’s “clair de lune” between “great balls of fire” and “good golly miss molly”, without pausing, in the middle of his 1964 star club set, and you get some idea of the effect.
    once again, this was recorded live, at ovations night club in houston. the applause at the end sounds a little dazed, which i would take as a good sign. in fact, i would take both of these recordings as a good sign, that there are still jazz warriors out there cranking out the good stuff on a nightly basis, just waiting for you to hear them.

  • cyriel pluimakers, 24 march 2017,

    het avontuurlijke evil rabbit records bracht eind vorig jaar een live-opname uit van het uit texas afkomstige the core trio met tenorsaxofonist seth paynter, contrabassist thomas helton en drummer joe hertenstein. een ensemble dat zich richt op vrije improvisatie en uitgebreid is met de uit new york afkomstige pianist matthew shipp, een samenwerking die voor de tweede keer plaats vindt. in het verleden traden ze ook al op met gasten als robert boston, steve swell en tim hagans.
    de muziek dateert van november 2014 en is opgenomen in de ovations night club in houston. de cd bevat twee lange stukken die elk iets meer dan een half uur duren: no nonsense muziek bedoeld voor de hard core vrije improvisatie liefhebber.

    met de volle honderd procent inzet gaat het ensemble met shipp als gast van start. eerst onderzoekend en aftastend, daarna neemt de pianist min of meer het voortouw met solowerk in rasechte cecil taylor stijl: percussief spel dat de vleugel laat schudden en sidderen. wanneer tenorsaxofonist paynter zich bij de band voegt, neemt shipp ogenblikkelijk gas terug. de musici vervallen geen moment in de valkuil van het nodeloos herrie maken. chaos ligt nergens op de loer, muzikaliteit staat voorop.

    kwaliteit bij vrije improvisatie staat of valt met de mate waarin de musici naar elkaar luisteren. iets wat the core trio en matthew shipp volledig waarmaken. paynter is een emotionele blazer met een lekker vol geluid, die de klankmogelijkheden van zijn tenorsaxofoon volledig benut. zijn doortastende solo's vormen expedities, waarin het hele idioom van atonaal tot subtiel en lyrisch voorbijkomt. shipp dient hem hierbij van vakkundige repliek.

    het is duidelijk dat de aanwezigheid van shipp bij the core trio een nieuwe dimensie geeft. van alle vernieuwende jazzpianisten van dit moment, beschikt hij veruit over de meeste durf. een aanpak, die aansluit bij de grote vernieuwers uit de jaren zestig en zeventig.

    waar shipp de hoofdrolspeler vormt in de eerste helft van het concert, daar vormt tenorsaxofonist paynter de boventoon in de tweede set. hij vertelt een meeslepend verhaal, waarin zijn majestueuze geluid volledig tot bloei komt. shipp stelt zich meer op als begeleider met ondersteunende akkoorden en arpeggio's. een indrukwekkende en hartstochtelijke saxofoonsolo met een ontlading aan het einde, vormt de hoofdmoot. muziek vol zeggingskracht, zoals die in de jazz alleen maar gemaakt wordt door de ware meesters.

    de samenwerking tussen the core trio en matthew shipp smaakt naar meer. is het een idee voor evil rabbit records om in de nabije toekomst nog een cd met deze combinatie uit te brengen?

  • robert d. rusch, january-march 2017, cadence magazine

    the core trio [seth paynter-ts, thomas helton-b, joe hertenstein-dms] features matt shipp [p], for a live [11/22/14] recording [evil rabbit records err 23] in houston, texas. the program is 2 improvs [65:37] in which shipp is take charge and dominate and it works extremely well. this is not to imply any reticence on the part of the core trio as they are at the ready and fill the music well when shipp breaks or lays low. the improvs ebb and flow as expected and the audience seems very attentive applauding only at the end of each set/improv. shipp has been well documented on recordings over the decades and this one of the most distinctive and one of the best.

  • stef, 27 february 2017,

    the texas based core of the core trio is thomas helton (double bass), seth paynter (sax) and joe hertenstein (drums). however, it may be okay for the core trio to admit they're actually a quartet as live is the third album to feature shipp, and his intense attacks and gentle accompaniment are an integral part of the group's sound.

    the album's execution is flawless, the attention to detail is impressive, and the music simply flows. paynter's sax work runs from breathy to fiery and compliments both shipps' ruminative moments as well as his bold and crushing crescendos. not 10 minutes into the first track and the quiet that the track opened with has blossomed into a soaring musical arc, the type that is often described as spiritual. groaning bass and minimalist percussion follow the early climax foreshadowing the next peak, which is signaled by deliberate middle register block chords from the piano.

    a solid hour of the core trio's music passes quickly. live is an excellent follow up to 2014's semi eponymous album, the core trio with matthew shipp.

  • philip clark, february 2017, jazzwise

    like orphy robinson and pat thomas' black top, the core trio – who operate out of texas – always perform with a guest. opinions remain divided in improvised music circles between those who insist that long established groups will inevitably struggle to escape the weight of their own performance traditions and a contrary view which favours familiarity: musical material can be manipulated more thoroughly when everyone knows its traits, moods and snapping points. the core trio, it seems, occupy the best of both worlds. their music is only ever completed by the presence of an outsider; and, once that outsider has left the field of play, the group can plot their next move from scratch. this gig with pianist matthew shipp was recorded live at the ovations night club in houston and two heavyweight 30-minute improvisations preach a state- of-the-nation address about where free jazz intersects with free improvisation. the situation requires each musician to quickly establish an identity. shipp's customary muscular kneading of harmonic energy at one notable point diverts towards a nimble- fingered two-part invention that puts you in mind of lennie tristano, while his abrupt lurches towards jazz time – albeit counted using an abacus borrowed from andrew hill – continually reboots the structure. near the beginning seth paynter's tenor and thomas helton's bass interweave singing lines in a timbrally matched unison; the ardent tenor solo that follows is brutally interrupted by drummer joe hertenstein puncturing holes in the impetus – the groove peppered with urgent questions.

  • dolf mulder, february 2017, vital weekly 1069

    most releases of this dutch label have – no surprise - a link with holland. concerning these two new releases however the link with holland seems absent. the core trio based in houston is comprised of thomas helton (double bass), seth paynter (sax) and joe hertenstein (drums). they exist since 2004 and a few years ago they released two cdrs, one with robert boston and one with matthew shipp as a guest, both released in a small number on freebass productions. the one with matthew
    shipp was recorded in 2014, as is this new release on evil rabbit. the cd has two lengthy improvisations both taking more than 30 minutes, recorded at ovations night club, november 22th
    in houston. heavy free jazz of a serious nature, where i vainly hoped for a bit of humour. there is a prominent role for pianist matthew shipp. but also paynter and hertenstein made their mark in these intense and engaging improvisations. helton is impressively present halfway the first improvisation in a battle with the piano.

  • jan granlie, 22 january 2017, salt peanuts

    den amerikanske pianisten matthew shipp, har i mange år vært en ytterst særpreget og original stemme innenfor den amerikanske jazzen. han har gjort et hopetall av plater i eget navn, pluss at han har en lang cv med samarbeid med blant andre david s. ware, mat maneri, roscoe mitchell, jemeel moondoc og, ikke minst, saksofonisten ivo perelman. hans solokonserter er alltid fascinerende og originale, og selv om han er trygt forankret innenfor den moderne delen av den amerikanske jazzen, særlig den musikken som har sin opprinnelse i chicago, så er musikken ofte lyrisk og vakker, samtidig som hans tekniske ferdigheter ved pianoet alltid overrasker. og for de i skandinavia som ikke har hørt han før, så anbefaler jeg en tur til vossa jazz, weekenden før påske, hvor shipp spiller solokonsert.
    men på «the core trio feat. matthew shipp» møter vi han med tenorsaksofonisten seth paynter, bassisten thomas helton og trommeslageren joe hertenstein, i et liveopptak fra ovations night club i houston, texas den 22. november 2014.
    the core trio, er en del av avantgarde-kvartetten rosta, og etter at kvartetten tok en pause, oppsto the core trio i 2004. de gjorde sin første innspilling som trio i 2013, sammen med new york-pianisten robert boston, før trommeslageren richard cholakian fant ut at han ville gå andre veier, og joe hertenstein kom med i stedet. og etter flere vellykkede konserter på klubber i new york, kom de i kontakt med shipp, som igjen førte til denne liveinnspillingen
    to låter, «set 1» og «set 2», hvor all musikken er skapt der og da.
    det starter med en bassintro, før pianoet kommer inn, og vi er i gang. musikken er frittgående, slik vi liker å høre den på små klubber en sen kveld. paynter er en dyktig saksofonist, som har hørt mye på chicagosaksofonister som for eksempel fred anderson. men han har også lånt et øre eller to til flere av de europeiske saksofonistene, og innimellom kan han minne om en ung jan garbarek («esoteric circle», «afric pepperbird»). bassist helton og trommeslager hertenstein er hele veien på hugget, og følger shipps frittgående pianospill på en utmerket måte.
    men det er matthew shipp som er hovedmannen på disse to lange strekkene. det er han som legger føringene for hvilken retning musikken mskal gå, noe han gjør med stor myndighet og overbevisning. litt cecil taylor, litt tidlig mccoy tyner, men hele veien veldig typisk matthew shipp.
    for den som er ute etter ei plate med frittgående, og ikke minst variert jazzmusikk, så er denne platen et must. selvsagt skulle man ha hørt disse fire musikerne live, men siden skandinavia ikke står på kjøreplanen for de fire den nærmeste tiden, så får vi klare oss med matthew shipp solo på vossa jazz. en konsert som kommer til å bli en stor opplevelse!

  • bertl, december 2016, freistil

    in diesen zwei über 30-minütigen live-sets trifft, im heimatlichen houston, das core trio auf free-piano-größe matthew shipp. diese improviserte musik typisch amerikanischer schule ist tief in der tradition des free jazz der 60er verwurzelt und bietet im grunde, vor allem im klanglichen bereich, eigentlich relativ viel herkömmliches. vor allem beim saxofonisten seth paynter, aber auch bei shipp taucht da kaum etwas auf, das wesentlich über das damals bereits vorliegende vokabular hinausweist. payne ist zwar ein virtuoser spieler, verfügt aber nicht annähernd über die sound-palette zeitgenössicher europäischer kolleginnen; der verbindung zum werk coltranes ist letztlich auch eingermaßen evident, inklusive zwischendurch immer wieder aufkommender spiritueller emphase. shipp changiert hier zwischen mächtigen akkordischen blöcken – von der wohldefinierten harmonie (suspended chords z.b.) über stärker alteriertes und chromatisch erweitertes bis hin zum cluster – und feiner gezeichnetem. rhythmisch äußerst komplexe pseudo-raphsodische ausflüge erinnern ab und zu an taylor, der gestus ist jedoch wesentlich zurückhaltender, lyrischere passagen spielen ein große rolle, anklänge an das post-evans/tyner-jazzpiano treten da und dort ebenso hervor. kennzeichnend für die beiden fast zur gänze in freiem tempo improviserten sets ist ein episodisches moment. dieser ansatz bietet zwar abwechslung und immer wieder auch schöne momente, droht aber auf dauer doch etwas eine übergreifende stringenz zu unterlaufen. dass das ganze dennoch stets am köcheln bleibt, dafür sorgen der filigran elastisch schlagzeugende joe hertenstein und der auch mit den bogen aktive kontrabassist thomas helton.

  • jan hocek, 8 december 2016,

    nizozemský nezávislý label evil rabbit records založili v roce 2006 pianista albert van veenendaal a kontrabasista meinrad kneer, oba významní hráči na poli avantgardního jazzu a volné improvizace. tedy label nonkonformních muzikantů pro nonkonformní muzikanty. cd odtud se vyznačují nápaditým designem; nyní je to obal z černého kartónu s otvory pro barevná odlišení titulů, jež jsou součástí vložených jednostranných bookletů. znamená to zároveň vítané snížení nákladů, nutné pro takový typ vydavatelství…
    nedávno vyšly dva pozoruhodné tituly, každý z opačného pólu jazzové avantgardy. pod pořadovým číslem 23 spatřilo světlo světa živé album the core tria s hostujícím matthewem shippem a jako 24 sólová studiová nahrávka biliany voutchkovy. první položka představuje free-jazzovou improvizaci, vycházející víceméně z tradičních idiomů, ta druhá absolutně volnou neidiomatickou improvizaci, bořící všechna pravidla. zároveň obě alba reprezentují to nejlepší z obou tvůrčích přístupů…
    americké the core trio bylo založeno v texaském houstonu v roce 2004. často hrálo s dalšími velikány avantgardního jazzu (steve swell, tim hagans,robert boston). tentokrát se s nimi v texaských klubech před dvěma lety objevil vpravdě legendární free-jazzový pianista matthew shipp. a z těchto vystoupení pochází materiál čerstvého alba "the core trio live featuring matthew shipp". samotné trio tvoří muzikanti o generaci mladší: tenorsaxofonista seth paynter (má na svém kontě již devět sólových alb!), kontrabasista thomas helton (člen the houston composer´s alliance) a bubeník joe hertenstein (ravi coltrane, chris potter, elliott sharp atd.). album obsahuje dva sety, první v délce 31 minut, druhý více než 34 minut. "set 1" odstartuje kontrabas, na který se nalepí kaskády klavírních tónů a bicí začnou tepat. shippovo piano umí běsnit, ale také ztišit, zlyričtět. saxofon je více drásavý; sténá, úpí, křičí. kontrabas místy doslova trpí pod smyčcem. přesto protagonisté nerezignují na harmonii, dokonce se občas otřou o výrazný melodický motiv, který ale posléze vydráždí až k nepříčetnosti. když se ozvou klavírní struny a basový smyčec se zklidní, dosahuje hudba bezmála magické účinnosti. v závěrečných minutách utichne sax a klavírní trio se s náruživostí ponoří do hard-bopového proudu. "set 2" se rozjíždí zvolna, hravě. tenorsax zní plnými, hutnými témbry. zvuk se pozvolna zahušťuje, a to i díky minimalistickým figurám klavíru. poté se tok značně rozvolní. navzdory energii a hustotě není zvuk zahlcen, občas zaduní klavírní údery, sax sténá, blouzní, vyráží ze sebe skřeky. vyloupne se klavírní trio a překvapivě začne swingovat, což vyvrcholí brilantním kontrabasovým sólem. sax s pianem si vymění několik dialogů a závěr patří řinoucímu klavírnímu triu s výtečně tlukoucími bicími…

  • zdenek slaby, 1 december 2016, his voice

    nedejme se mýlit uniformní, černě smuteční ambaláží edice evil rabbit records s prořezaným kolečkem pro název; její 23. a 24. kompakt dosvědčuje, že label má svoji neměnnou vyhraněnost, své priority a ustáleně rozmanitý program na vysoké úrovni. svědectvím nám mohou být hudebníci, kteří tu startovali v uplynulých deseti letech: vedle stabilního meinrada kneera je to například albert van veenendal, ab baars, mark alban lotz, jan klare nebo fiorenzo bodrato. (…)

    the core trio z houstonu / texas existuje od roku 2004 a spolupracovalo už s robertem bostonem, stevem swellem či timem haggansem. v roce 2014 realizovalo studiovou nahrávku s avantgardním pianistou matthewem shippem a bylo zřejmé, že tu (kladně) křísla kosa o kámen. tak si tenor saxofonista seth paynter, kontrabasista thomas helton a hráč na bicí joe hertenstein řekli, že si vzájemné klání ozřejmí ještě v koncertní podobě, a vzniklo cd the core trio live featuring matthew shipp, zaznamenané 22. listopadu 2014 v nočním klubu ovations v sídelním městě tria. víme už z jiných příležitostí, jak se shipp dokáže dovtělit do jakéhokoli kolektivu a jak ho svede dotvořit; totéž se projevilo i v tomto případě. dokazují to oba přespůlhodinové "sety".
    v tom prvním se znenáhla vynořuje basa, vzbuzuje napětí, svižně a propojivě se k ní přidává klavír a bicí, klavír má svou dramatizující pevnost, bicí se prořádí do rytmického cvalu s náběžným odsekáváním, ale klavír vévodí, vše se děje smrštně, zahrávavě. a když se vpojí blyskotně dojímavý a kouzlivě promotávající se sax, ocitneme se v rezolutní symbióze. tak by mohla hudební reportáž pokračovat; důležité ovšem je, že sledujeme přeskočnou i obkročnou náladovostní změť, kterou klavír zbystřuje nebo útěšňuje, tenor nadrženě, až rdousivě vybuzuje s promlacováním či s blouznivým odbíjením/dobíjením bubnů a basa vede pohromově do zadrma a do bzučivostního předělu. když pak klavír odcinkává dějové pásmo s chvějivým saxem, vše se prohouštňuje, zalyká, loudivě i nabízivě vrkotá. toto zachytávání proměnlivosti (oka)mžiků v jejich spádnosti i výpadnosti je rozrušeně vehementní i zase nářkově bezbranné (sax), je to prostě vždy nové (roz)prostírané vizitýrování, utíkavé obměňování, výskočnostní vybořování s pohrávajícím si těkáním klavíru. druhou část koncertu prozkoumává zprvu rozedmutě vytěkávající sax s úderkovými bicími, přičemž klavír opět vše projišťuje, překlene jakýkoli zádrhel a dodává výhled až do zamyšleného výtržnění; všichni v roli součinostní rytmiky obepínají splavně zběsilostní i utrhačný sax, vše probíhá se spádným průtočněním, probouráváním do vznosného pokušitelství a vzápětí s potichlostním licitováním zámlk a promlk, vzbuzujících napětí. děj se houfnicově zaruinovává, proudivě provléká, pochybovačsky zašprajcovává a opětovně renovuje s vyhecovávanou explozívností a s vybičovávaným promotáváním. a zase je to klavír, který v tomto obhlédání nastíní východisko, rozperlí se, inspiruje, nabídne šanci za šancí, čehož využije jak rozpeřený sax, tak rozvichřeně nabuzené bicí. prostě jeden nástroj po druhém si včasně zabukuje své umístění a prostor, což se províjí a prosmekává ve všech myslitelných rozpoloženích. postup je zvírňován a rešeršován od uhýbnějící náznakovosti do zfrontovaně hlubinného zabuřování. celkový dojem, ne nepodobný předcházející desce? střemhlavá improvizace, plná dynamičnosti, podnětná, nebývalá. dejte se ohromit! zlověstný králík si zase po čase dvakrát zařádil.

  • todd mccomb, 2 november 2016, todd mccomb's jazz thoughts

    the core trio of thomas helton, seth paynter & joe hertenstein is back with another album (this time live in houston) "featuring matthew shipp." this second album (on evil rabbit) is less triadic and more dissonant than the first, but remains largely within the extended tonal domain, projecting two half-hour-long improvised symphonic — or perhaps more the piano quartet they actually are — tapestries. the performances are often led forcefully by shipp, with bassist helton first setting the tone with a distinctively warm style, and the others helping to modulate & shape these long-form pieces without resorting to much flash or climax. they might be called gritty. the result is an interesting field of musical (in a recognizably traditional sense) tensions moving through multiple areas, almost an "alternate musical reality" to 60s jazz, given its similar harmonic explorations amid the rather different sense of ensemble & raw material across its various scenes.

  • bruce lee gallanter, 28 october 2016, dmg

    live featuring matt shipp (evil rabbit 23; netherlands) featuring seth paynter on tenor sax, matt shipp on piano, thomas helton on bass and joe hertenstein on drums. a couple of times a year, texas bassist thomas helton plays here at dmg, at times with varying personnel, last sunday (10/23/16) with tony malaby and joe hertenstein. this is the third release from the core trio which includes saxist seth paynter (from houston) and drummer joe hertenstein (currently in ny). this is the second disc to feature downtown piano great matt shipp as a special guest. it was recorded live at a club in houston called ovations. whoever did the recording here (a ryan edwards), the sound is excellent. the discs starts off with a turbulent piano trio, before the sax finally comes in and the energy starts to build. the quartet builds and erupts at times sounds like the david s. ware quartet, which matt shipp did play with with for many years. mr. paynter has a strong, deep tone on tenor but rarely blows too hard always staying well-balanced and nuanced. the main difference here is that this quartet never stays in one place for very long, often ending up in more restrained areas before things erupt for short periods. what i like most about this quartet is that they sound like they have a group mind, no one leading or pushing them into any unnatural areas. it sounds as if this group has been playing when things do quiet down, mr. shipp plucks the strings inside the piano to create some suspense. rather than erupting over and over, there is a more organic and restrained side to this which works well since it feels right without any screaming. matt shipp is an integral part of this quartet yet rarely pushes the other members anywhere. there is a sense of calm at the center of much of this as if no one is trying to push the intensity into the red zone. parts of this are majestic sounding like some direction 0r plan we conceived ahead of time. a winner for the free form sweepstakes competition.

  • karl ackermann, 20 october 2016,

    what we have here is no-nonsense free improvisation where the track titles are chronologically functional but the music has a mind of its own. this is the core trio, who in direct opposition to that kind of pragmatic naming convention, have consistently performed and recorded as a small combo with an additional guest. robert boston, steve swell, and tim hagans) have each joined the "core" trio being at the heart of a quartet. for the second time, on the core trio live, featuring matthew shipp, they team with the avant-garde pianist, this time capturing a live performance.

    the houston, texas-based group consists of saxophonist seth paynter, bassist thomas helton and drummer joe hertenstein, the latter being the only member not part of the group originally founded by helton out of the remains of the quartet rosta. paynter has produced a number of adventurous solo albums including isospin (self-produced, 2015) with an excellent taiwanese pianist hsin-jung tsai. hertenstein has recorded with thomas heberer, jon irabagon and saxophonist blaise siwula. helton has performed with hagans, milt jackson, william parker, and swell among others.

    recorded at a 2014 performance at houston's ovations night club, the free improvisations of "before the break" and "after the break" are subtly organized, never descending into all-out pandemonium. each piece clocks in at slightly more than one-half hour, shipp and paynter up front in both, instigating bits of melodies and discord, allowing each other to add their individual ideas to the structure. helton and hertenstein, judiciously controlling the momentum while allowing the leads to freely explore.

    all four players find ample space to cut loose on these two improvisations though helton appears to function more as the guide and the glue. shipp has a number of cecil taylor moments of thundering chords and torrents of notes, but eventually finds his way back to a more lyrical center. similarly, paynter, at times, wails ferociously though longer, melodic lines are his sweet spot. the core trio live, featuring matthew shipp succeeds where much live, free improvisation fails—it is as listenable as it is audacious.