375

Matthew Shipp: 4D

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp: 4D Matthew Shipp has become one of the most distinctive piano stylists operating in the free jazz continuum, recognizable after just a few notes. 4D, his sixth solo piano disc mirrors the format of its illustrious predecessor Harmonic Disorder (Thirsty Ear, 2009) though with pared back instrumentation. Altogether there are 16 cuts reflecting a wide range of approaches during a program just shy of an hour. One consequence of so many short tracks, with 10 clocking in at less than 4 minutes, is that each one represents an intense distillation of the pianist's ideas.

As on Harmonic Disorder, but unlike his last two solo discs, Shipp features standards and popular songs alongside his own compositions, with some recognizable straight away but others treated so obliquely as to be unrecognizable. This allows insight to how he tackles the less well known contours of his own pieces where, unencumbered by bass and drums, Shipp takes such a free approach that it is hard to be sure whether they are extemporized or preconceived.

Although the original material won't cause an outbreak of foot-tapping, that's not the intention. There are different, more bracing pleasures to be savored. "The Crack In The Piano's Egg" is a case in point: as light refracted through a prism separates into its constituent wavelengths, so fragments of angular melody and bursts of lurching headlong rhythm, subjected to Shipp's elastic use of time, stand next to but apart from one another. "Blue Web In Space" sounds like a distant cousin of Shipp favorite "Key Swing" in its rhythmic architecture, though not in the dissonance amid the occasional blue tinged notes and ringing repetitions, while "Sequence And Vibration" often suggests it might resolve into some other Shipp compositions, but never does. At times Shipp's tactics recall other pianists: there is a touch of Sun Ra about the pealing harmonic progression of "Stairs" contrasted with quieter abstract musings, while "Primal Harmonic" has echoes of mid '70s Keith Jarrett in its low key ruminations.

Of the covers, "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is occasionally just glimpsed dashing for cover between dense stands of rhythmic crashing, while "Prelude To A Kiss" masquerades under heavy disguise. "Autumn Leaves" hews closer to the tune before an emphatic chordal mugging and a finale of stabbing Morse code supplements the accustomed cadences. "Frere Jacques" (sounding more like "Lord Of The Dance" to my ears) mutates into clanging prancing variations as if played on underwater bells, while in the closing "Greensleeves" Shipp alternates the (over)familiar theme with passages where the skies darken and thunderclouds drench this particular parade: a powerful meditation on how order descends into chaos to finish this austere but gripping disc.


Track Listing: 4D; The Crack In The Piano's Egg; Equilibrium; Teleportation; Dark Matter; Stairs; Jazz Paradox; Blue Web In Space; What Is This Thing Called Love?; Autumn Leaves; Sequence And Vibration; Frere Jacques; Prelude To A Kiss; What A Friend We Have In Jesus; Primal Harmonic; Greensleeves.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano.

Title: 4D | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Dream Delivery" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Delivery
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "Perch Hen Brock & Rain/Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere" CD/LP/Track Review Perch Hen Brock & Rain/Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Lockout Station" CD/LP/Track Review Lockout Station
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Big Man on Campus" CD/LP/Track Review Big Man on Campus
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Mass" CD/LP/Track Review Mass
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 2, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.