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Great article about a great musician...Though I know Mr Shipp resists influence, I would still say there is grand confluence in his art, between American and European, for example. The way they called McCoy Tyner "Bud Monk," I would call Shipp "Bela Hancock," respectfully and admiringly.
An interesting article, but more because of its excesses than its informativeness. The details are so florid as to be nearly lurid. Ms Horton comes across through her words more as a sycophant than as a biographer or reviewer. It is difficult to say which she is trying to be. As an example, "As early as his pre-teen childhood, Shipp developed a capacity for mapping the characters of people and seeing the core of their beings." Please, is Horten describing the Dalai Lama or are the words Shipp's own and yet another example of his self aggrandizement? The picture drawn is so over the top as to raise a question of objectivity in regards to the description of Shipp's music. Another example, "Already a youthful mystic, a disciple of the fantastical and omniversal, Shipp knew the road he was going to follow. The piano was his tool for reaching an unidentifiable zone, where no pianist had ever gone before." Really? What purpose then was there in describing Shipp's early admirations for Bud Powell and Monk? Does Shipp or Horton truly believe that he has surpassed either one in any creative sense? Wow!!
The article has one particularly glaring inconsistency that should leave the readers puzzled. First a quote from Shipp regarding the source of his style, "I have no influences—I existed together with god and the piano before time Began—and my piano playing is the direct result of the fact that my mind and the cosmic mind that sustains the universe are in harmony..... If at any time it sounds like another pianist it's because the universe is one organism and there is one underlining [sic] language field so what I articulate on the piano can resemble what another part of the one cosmic brain would articulate on the piano." Following which he names no fewer than five significant influences on his musical and creative development, Powell, Monk, Alice Coltrane, Wm Parker and Sonyata and a Tai Chi master. I'd be curious to know in just what manner Henry Miller was able to have some effect on Shipp's consciousness, especially through Tropic of Capricorn.
Shipp's music is fine. It is certainly inventive and generally not abrasive, puzzling nor incoherent. Ms. Horton's article, however, ends up sounding more like, with apologies to Wm. Shakespeare, Too Much Ado About Something.
A second thought after having listened to Jason Crane's interview on AAJ. Shipp comes off very articulate and informative about his music and general artistic point of view. There is none of the hyperbolic rhetoric of the Horton article coming out of this interview. Maybe it's just a function of the effectiveness of Crane, but Shipp simply spends 40 minutes giving the listener a good explanation of what he does in music. He actually comes across as down to earth. Well done Crane.
I thought the article tended to ramble a bit myself.I enjoy mr shipps work and play it on my internet radio station. I will not comment on the music as it can speak for itself and no person should tell another person what her or she feels about a piece of music. The article seemed to try and sell a music that quite honestly is a niche music and anyone that enjoys will not need the amount of information supplied in the article to enjoy.I would also like to say that if we are all connected to universal mind then even if i want to sound cliched then it is ultimately impossible and so there is no need to try and sound " universal" Just get up in the morning, take a pi... and put your hands on your instrument after you wash. thats my universal approach to making music. the part about putting hands on instrument is of course a life long process and the only real task i think is to express our love for one another through sharing our art, sound, food, conversation, kisses, sexual experiences. I do enjoy your music mr shipp and you have influenced my own piano playing some and i plan on reading some of those good books you have read. the article was informative in that way. Im basically saying if someone doesnt like your music i dont think they are a mf er and i dont think you do either, just maybe they dont live in the same galaxy in this big universe that us avant garde artist do... :) One Love Jim Gray
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