Matthew Shipp Trio: Elastic Aspects (2012)
When speaking of the development of the piano trio, talk inevitably turns to its different lineups, such a the evolution of Bill Evans' trio before and after the Scott LaFaro, or the differing approaches of drummers Paul Motian and Joe La Barbera. For Matthew Shipp, his latest company signals a sort of turning pointperhaps even a milestone.
Shipp's trio, first heard on The Art Of The Improviser (Thirsty Ear, 2011) might be the most sympathetic subscribers to the Matthew Shipp sound" to date. Drummer and longtime collaborator Whit Dickey can be heard on Shipp's recordings from the early 1990s, including the treasured classics Circular Temple (Infinite Zero, 1992) and Critical Mass (213CD, 1995), and with the pianist in David S. Ware's bands. The wildcard here, however, is the addition of bassist Michael Bisio. Bisio, has kept time for other uncompromising saxophonists including Joe McPhee, Louie Belogenis, and Joe Giardullo.
Bisio's steady hand on Elastic Aspects opens the disc with a bowed commencement heard in tandem with Dickey's mallet play. The thirteen tracks that make up this elastic suite weave together a summing up of Shipp's musical curriculum vitae. He has defined a path for his music that can absorb instant composing, chamber music, hip hop, hard-bop, and energetic jazz. With Bisio, these seemingly disparate flavors mix nicely.
"Psychic Counterpoint" begins with a walking bass line countered by Shipp's (now) trademark stabbing repeated patterns, segueing into a piece of free music that references Shipp's patterns. The trio works the concept flawlessly, each track expanding the notion and occasionally contracting into solo and duo performances. "Raw Materials" finds Bisio and Shipp circling each other on a gracious chamber piece, while "Flowchart" manages bits of mayhem, matching Bisio's bowed energy against some inspired and fevered drumming. Bisio shines on "Rain Forest," a solo piece that flows into the bouncy "Stage 10," where Shipp works the insides of his piano like a DJ, while Bisio walks his bass over Dickey's brushwork.
With this new trio, Shipp's varying concepts coalesce into a meaningful and unabridged whole.
Track Listing: Alternative Aspects; Aspects; Psychic Counterpoint; Frame Focus; Flow Chart; Mute Voice; Explosive Aspects; Raw Materials; Rainforest; Stage 10; Dimension; Elastic Aspects; Elastic Eye.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Michael Bisio: bass; Whit Dickey: drums.