Matthew Shipp: Piano Vortex (2007)
With about twenty years of recorded Matthew Shipp to consider these days, the pianist has grown, expanded his musical vision to include electronics, sampling, total freedom, and, interestingly, the piano jazz tradition. Following his solo effort One (2006) is this very intimate trio record.
The spontaneous compositions of Shipp are accompanied by the sympathetic playing of Joe Morris on bass, instead of his usual guitar, and drummer Whit Dickey. This trio can be compared to the Keith Jarrett trio, maybe for the new generation.
Shipp's expansiveness is shelved for smaller ideas and group interaction. It is as if each player's ideas are spoken for before they choose to speak.
The disc opens with the title track, where4 Shipp plays single finger notes, ringing in exploration, but with gentle nudges. Morris and Dickey are satisfied to accompany, as Shipp samples styles and partial swing, leaping from concept to idea. Has he digested the piano tradition and loosened it upon his subconscious? Let's hope so.
That tradition includes the swinging Herbie Nichols blues heard on "Keyswing, the two-handed science fiction of "Nooks And Corners, with bits of Andrew Hill's ghost overseeing the trio, and an open book of Muhal Richard Abrams heard on "Sliding Through Space.
It's not that Dickey and Morris are merely accompanists. Their voices flower on the white-water "Quivering With Speed, an urgent skip, run, and jump of a tune, and the faux-grandiosity of "The New Circumstances.
The trio runs a straight 4/4 on "To Vitalize, playing havoc with the night club piano musings of expectant jazz listeners. Morris lays down a pulse, only to be fudged with by Shipp, keeping you listening as if you are looking at a picture mounted on a crooked frame that can never be straightened.
That, indeed is this trio's contribution to the jazz tradition. They provoke you to listen again, with new ears.
Track Listing: Piano Vortex; Key Swing; The New Circumstances; Nooks And Corners; Sliding Through Space; Quivering With Speed; Slips Through The Fingers; To Vitalize.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Joe Morris: bass; Whit Dickey: drums.