How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
There is a moment fairly early on in pianist Matthew Shipp's Elastic Aspects, when the solo piano that has been hypnotizing for several minutes ends and is replaced by a rather angry and anxious sounding bass, bowed fervently by trio mate Michael Bisio
, with Shipp pecking intermittently. Bisio then rejoins his partners, sounding nimble and agile, pizzicato now, and the three roll along happily for a moment before dispersing to scream on their own, laugh on their own, and transform themselves before coming together again. What the members of this trio do remarkably well is play on their own in such a way as to be a strong unit.
Elastic Aspects is a fitting title for this suite for trio, a wonderfully flexible work which stretches and regains its form time and time again. The spotlight is shared between the three voices, going back and forth, mixing and matching, gaining momentum and retreating. Bisio's bowing is elastic in its own right, and is a departure point at several momentsor perhaps a landing spotbut it is absolutely captivating. "Stage 10" shows off how subtle jazz can be, how effortless three players can swing while remaining outside the traditional jazz lexicon and vocabulary. This is modern music, or at least not tied to familiar structures and changes. It is also truly moving music, full of emotion, passion, spirituality, and tenderness.
Shipp has emerged as a truly original voice in modern jazz, with a readily identifiable touch, a gift for composing and improvising, and a growing discography which is starting to reflect the tremendous talent that those who have been seeing him live for years have been anxiously awaiting. Elastic Aspects continues this trend, serving as a gorgeous suite of music performed by a trio of supremely gifted individuals.