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Matthew Shipp: Pastoral Composure

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Creative and free jazz pianist Matthew Shipp knows how to draw traditional jazz and non-jazz listeners to his brand of music. This is his second release for Thirsty Ear, a label where you are more likely to find Henry Rollins than Sonny Rollins. Shipp utilizes the familiar as a device to attract attention, then holds it with his improvisation and imagination. Two familiar songs “Frere Jacques” and “Prelude To A Kiss” are merely jumping off points that act as a frame of reference. In the same way that John Coltrane reworked the popular song “My Favorite Things,” Shipp is daring you to follow him. The other way he entices traditional jazz listeners is by utilizing the familiar quarter structure for this recording. Drummer Gerald Cleaver (Roscoe Mitchell Note Factory) and trumpeter Roy Campbell join his long time compatriot William Parker (bass). Campbell is equally comfortable playing free as he is bebop. In this quartet configuration, Shipp continues his alluring devices by alluding to Miles Davis/Gil Evan’s “Sketches of Spain” on the opener “Gesture.” Building his structure the same way Miles did, with an increasing intensity. The quartet plays straight bebop on “Visions,” trading solos, and the title track is reminiscent of Ornette Coleman circa 1960. That is if Ornette and Don Cherry were to have a piano in their lineup. Shipp continues to impress. Hopefully, we haven’t heard the last of him in the quartet setting.

Track List:Gesture; Visions; Prelude To A Kiss; Pastoral Composure; Progression; Frere Jacques; Merge; Inner Order; XTU.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp

Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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