Shipp/Lowe/Cleaver/Ray

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 @ 8:00 pm

Matthew Shipp, piano
Allen Lowe, alto sax
Gerald Cleaver, drums
Kevin Ray, bass


Roulette is pleased to present the unique and exciting chemistry of the jazz-based quartet Shipp/Lowe/Cleaver/Ray. A cooperative group of established musicians, the quartet incorporates the uniquely recognizable pianist Matthew Shipp, masterful alto saxophonist Allen Lowe, legendary percussionist Gerald Cleaver, and acclaimed bassist Kevin Ray. Specializing in free improv, a recent concert was called “a remarkable outing,” and “a testament to their understanding of subtleties and their overall musical experience” in All About Jazz.


With his unique and recognizable style, pianist Matthew Shipp worked and recorded vigorously from the late ’80s onward, creating music in which free jazz and modern classical intertwined. He first became well known in the early ’90s as the pianist in the David S. Ware Quartet, and soon began leading his own dates – – most often including Ware bandmate and leading bassist William Parker — and recording a number of duets with a variety of musicians, from the legendary Roscoe Mitchell to violinist Mat Maneri, the latter another musician who began making a name for himself in the ’90s. Through his range of live and recorded performances and unswerving individual development, Shipp has come to be regarded as a prolific and respected voice in creative music into the new millennium.

Allen Lowe is a saxophonist, guitarist, mastering engineer, and music historian. He has performed and recorded as a leader with David Murray, Doc Cheatham, Marc Ribot, Matthew Shipp, Don Byron, Julius Hemphill, Nels Cline, Ken Peplowski, JD Allen, Kalaparusha, Ursula Oppens, Roswell Rudd, James Brandon Lewis, Frank Lacy, and Jimmy Knepper. He has released at least fifteen albums under his own name, and released five new works in 2018. There are entries about him in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and The Penguin Guide to Jazz albumc. There is a chapter on him in the book Bebop and Nothingness by Francis Davis (Schirmer Books: 1996).

Born May 4, 1963 and raised in Detroit, Gerald Cleaver is a product of the city’s rich music tradition. Inspired by his father, drummer John Cleaver, he began playing the drums at an early age. He also played violin in elementary school, and trumpet in junior high school and high school. As a teenager he gained invaluable experience playing with Detroit jazz masters Ali Muhammad Jackson, Lamont Hamilton, Earl Van Riper, and Pancho Hagood. While attending the University of Michigan as a music education major, he was awarded a Jazz Study Grant, from the National Endowment for the Arts, to study with drummer Victor Lewis. He graduated in 1992 and began teaching in Detroit where he worked with Rodney Whitaker, A. Spencer Barefield, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Wendell Harrison, and with visiting musicians Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, Cecil Bridgewater, Ray Bryant, Eddie Harris, Dennis Rowland, Howard Johnson, Diana Krall and Don Byron. In 1995 he accepted an appointment as assistant professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Michigan, and in 1998 also joined the jazz faculty at Michigan State University. He moved to New York in 2002. He has performed or recorded with Franck Amsallem, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Lotte Anker, Reggie Workman, Marilyn Crispell, Matt Shipp, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Kevin Mahogany, Charles Gayle, Mario Pavone, Ralph Alessi, Jacky Terrasson, Jimmy Scott, Muhal Richard Abrams, Dave Douglas, Tim Berne, Jeremy Pelt, Ellery Eskelin, David Torn and Miroslav Vitous, among others. Cleaver has released two recordings as a leader. His 2001 recording Adjust (Fresh Sound New Talent) was nominated in the Best Debut Recording category by the Jazz Journalists Association. His latest release, Gerald Cleaver’s Detroit (FSNT), is an homage to his hometown and to the late, great Detroit drummers Roy Brooks, Lawrence Williams, George Goldsmith and Richard “Pistol” Allen. Cleaver leads the bands Violet Hour, NiMbNl and Uncle June.

As a young man casting about for direction, critically acclaimed bassist (“able to hear around corners…”, “… a wonder”) Kevin Ray drifted into the New School jazz program, where he became a protege of Reggie Workman’s; a deep relationship that abides to this day. Under Reggie’s tutelage he developed an affinity for adventurous artists such as The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Henry Threadgill, The World Saxophone Quartet, Andrew Cyrille, and others. Supporting himself in the early 90s with a straight gig managing a division at Forbes Publishing, Kevin continued to study and play. Toward the end of the decade, he came into contact with one of his spiritual mentors, Andrew Hill. “Andrew gave me the confidence to be truly serious about becoming a musician,” Ray explains. For ten years he played regularly with Hill and continued to expand his horizons by performing and recording with other outstanding artists such as John Hicks, Bobby Zankel, Oliver Lake, Greg Osby, John Stubblefield, Ray Anderson, Kelvyn Bell, Elliott Sharp, Hamiet Bluiett, Nels Cline, Ursula Oppens, Ken Peplowski, J.D. Allen, and Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre. He has also performed in the premieres of major works by a wide range of composers, including Lee Hyla, Joe McPhee and Leroy Jenkins. In addition, since 2012, he has been a member, along with Frank Lacy and Andrew Drury, of the collective trio 1032K.


Photo Credit: Sujata Subramanian