Strange but true: Schlippenbach and drummer Eddie Prévost had never played together before the 2008 UK concerts that yielded Blackheath. The arch egalitarian procedure of equally dividing a program between respective solos and a culminating duo gives the pianist another opportunity in his album-opening solo to further detail his sensibility’s fusing of serial variations and advanced jazz. “Four Pieces in One” includes two compositions recorded for Twelve Tone Tales, as well as the Globe Unity Orchestra chestnut “The Forge” and a take on Eric Dolphy’s “Out to Lunch.” At first, Schlippenbach meticulously develops materials as if he is rotating a diamond to reveal all of its facets; somewhere near the halfway mark, he goes into an overdrive, his racing lines all the more astounding because of his impeccable keying and pedaling. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the performance is that, at 20 minutes, it’s over before you know, and it leaves you wanting more. After a powerful drum solo in which Prévost not only updates his “Blakey of Brixton” cred of more than 40 years ago, but includes a high-hat and cymbals passage that conveys an equally deep absorption of Jo Jones and Max Roach as well, the album closes with an intriguingly shaped duo. It launches with blistering intensity and slowly unwinds over a quart-hour to a hush so convincing as to prompt applause; and then reignites with a vengeance for a final five minutes, affirming shared roots in free jazz.
Point of Departure Issue 21 February 2009