Matthew Shipp Trio: London, UK, February 17, 2011
As he patrolled his kit Dickey looked intently down, his head unmoving even as his hands were a blur. But his concentration didn't mean he wasn't listening, as he proved very attentive to the leader's subtle promptings, able to emphasize crescendos with his bass drum while at same time maintaining an invigorating chorus on the rest of his drum set. Not given to showboating, Dickey was full of understated power, prone to tracing wonderfully intricacies on his cymbals, playing as if some limbs were governed by a separate brain. By always keeping a pulse somewhere, he allowed Bisio the leeway for some of his more mercurial excursions. It wasn't until the second set that he took a solo, emerging from beneath a hypnotic refrain by Shipp and Bisio to extemporize with controlled abandon as embellishments, accents and rhythms whirled around his traps.
Even though the second set had its moments, including an exuberantly combustive "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," and an abrupt unison finish spun from one of Shipp's insistent themes, it didn't quite reach the highs of the first. Nonetheless the rapturous applause from the standing room only crowd made one thing clear: piano trios don't come any better than this. For those unable to catch a live show, the trio's half of Shipp's excellent new double disc concert recording The Art of the Improviser
(Thirsty Ear, 2011) gives the best indication of what was on offer, even down to some of the same titles.