Of many saxophone-piano duos inevitably invite comparison with the singer-piano collaborations if the keyboard is used as a harmonic bed for reeds or voice. The piano underpins the melodic line of the Horn with strings and sometimes broke out with a solo. The Horn rarely plays a role of "compilation" support. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and more recently a few duets adventurous by Jason Yarde and Andrew McCormack and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer showed how successful a subversion of the usual model may well be.
This captivating union of pianist Matthew Shipp and alto saxophonist Darius Jones is an important addition to the foregoing and fascinates for its emotional and conceptual richness. Fifty years Shipp, a vital presence on the stage in New York for 30 years, who had long associations with saxophonist David Ware and bassist William Parker, is a visibly potent player. He often encourages chords resembling boulder, bassy sometimes contain so many notes that they become large, real sound Himalayas. These contrast dense low assaults of range effectively with the talented 32 years Jones fortissimos piercing, a player impresses women little ironically named, a band probe loaded noise thrash jazz. Therefore several pieces on this 13-track program to engage to their wide dynamic range, with keyboard disintegrated in territory of baritone, while the Horn explodes in the soprano.
But there is much more to this type of tonal bi-polarite collaboration. A gripping and majestic composition as Nix Utoan opens with stark Pharoah Sanders-like harmonic which then transparently wheel in a short bumpy ride, stab lines Shipp and Jones; and it is the tension paving between the different expressions of three or four notes, falling on and off one implied beat bites the ear. These rhythmic clashes marked the jazz for decades, but the impact is compounded by their clarity in this bare parameter, drummer-less and the bold lines of each man percussion. They have two locks in a set of convergence and divergence that succeeds for their energetic individuality and Alchemy not forced.