Matthew Shipp is one of the most creatively restless musicians in contemporary music. He is most immediately identified with the free end of jazz, and his notable peers have included bassist William Parker, saxophonist Ivo Perelman, and the late saxophonist David S. Ware. His playing is rooted in the blues and features complex harmonies, a sound that is simultaneously rich and unstablechameleonic.
And so we found ourselves on Zoom, developing ideas for a future opera, and starting with the question of what to do with our voices in this new venue. Here, there is no physical space, but there is one bizarre temporal space: the often-mentioned audio delay.
Fairuz is now 85 years old, still the dominant female singer in Lebanon, and indeed the Arabic world itself. The departed Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum is the only other contender. Fairuz is the Arabic word for turquoise, her birth name being Nouhad Haddad. She started out as a radio chorus vocalist, which led to meeting the Rahbani Brothers, Assi and Mansour, who instantly clicked into a songwriting partnership with Fairuz. Assi and Fairuz married in 1955. This personal and professional relationship was sundered in 1979, from which point Fairuz inducted her son Ziad Rahbani as her chief composer and arranger.
In this column last month, for a piece called Vision and Revision, I concluded with a poem by Rumi (The Guest House) about the inevitability of change, and the need to accept it. The story struck a fairly optimistic note. But if I am honest, my predominant feeling lately has been one of dread. To open the newspaper is to unleash a cascade of barely imaginable stories. Yet how can we be surprised when we knew? The answer: We dont want to know.