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Matthew Shipp Trio: Root Of Things (2014)

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Matthew Shipp Trio: Root Of Things How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The third album by pianist Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
b.1960
piano
's trio with bassist Michael Bisio
Michael Bisio
Michael Bisio

bass, acoustic
and drummer Whit Dickey
Whit Dickey
Whit Dickey

drums
persuades as their strongest yet, no mean feat after the live disc included on The Art Of The Improviser (Thirsty Ear, 2011) and Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear, 2012). Over the six cuts from this 2013 studio session they restate their case to be considered one of the premier contemporary piano threesomes, supremely cohesive and thoroughly convincing in Shipp's unique idiom combining insistent themes, darkly thunderous voicings and crystalline romantic lyricism.

In Bisio, whose resume boasts stints alongside multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee
Joe McPhee
Joe McPhee
b.1939
reeds
and saxophone iconoclast Charles Gayle
Charles Gayle
Charles Gayle
b.1939
saxophone
, Shipp has found the perfect foil: someone who can match him blow for blow in a blizzard of notes or spin off stirring tales at the drop of a hat, while continually providing expressive plangent counterpoint. Dickey, who studied with Milford Graves
Milford Graves
Milford Graves
b.1940
drums
and helmed David S. Ware
David S. Ware
David S. Ware
1949 - 2012
sax, tenor
's classic quartet for several years in the mid 1990s, while comparatively unobtrusive, adds layers of detail keenly appreciated on repeated listens. By not closing down any option, his multiple rhythms particularly suit the leader's predilection for abruptly shifting in and out of time or between tempos.

On the title track another of Shipp's trademark soulful but nagging refrains, set out in unison by piano and bass, anchors the sparkling but relaxed collective. Typically it acts as a recurring motif but doesn't necessarily trigger the ensuing extemporization. Involved group discourse remains the defining characteristic, though two lovely individual moments illuminate the aptly named "Jazz It," which veers between infectious swing and choppy interplay. In the first Shipp's reiterated chords become more and more bottom heavy before a sprightly relaunch, while later Bisio heralds a return to meter with a spine tingling sequence of downward slurred tones.

Solo introductions to the remaining numbers showcase each member of the triumvirate. Among the most notable, Bisio initiates "Path" by creating a call-and-response dynamic between his plucking and bow work, while the throbbing "Pulse Code" opens with a rare feature for Dickey in which he synthesizes Graves and Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
in an urgent boogaloo. Such parts are wonderful, but the whole is sublime.

Track Listing: Root Of Things; Jazz It; Code J; Path; Pulse Code; Solid Circuit.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Michael Bisio: bass; Whit Dickey: drums.

Record Label: Relative Pitch Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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