205

Matthew Shipp: Equilibrium

By

Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp: Equilibrium

The buzz on Matthew Shipp's new recording was that it would be his greatest, most accessible, album to date. Accessible Equilibrium most certainly is, but greatness and accessibility for a free jazz artist should rarely be uttered in the same breath.

The latest addition to Thirsty Ear Records' Blue Series, of which Shipp also serves as artistic director, Equilibrium is both funky and free - a genre-bending blend of electronic beats, ambient rhythms and free jazz spontaneity.

Shipp is joined by drummer Gerald Cleaver and by longtime friend and frequent collaborator William Parker on bass. The addition of vibraphonist Khan Jamal to the mix was about the smartest thing Shipp did with Equilibrium. Apparently aware of this stroke of genius, Shipp allows Jamal to roam free (literally) on some of the funkiest composition the pianist has written, at times even allowing him to overshadow the bandleader as the premier soloist of the group.

"Nebula Theory" and the album's title cut, "Equilibrium," are undeniably superb free jazz, with Shipp and Parker interacting in the nearly subconscious manner which the duo excels at. Shipp's desire to develop a crossover of jazz improvisation and atmospheric ambient music is further explored on "Nu Matrix."

However, it is the album's flirtation with jam band-inspired groove theory, as on "Vamp to Vibe" or "Cohesion," that are most disappointing. Though these tracks are good, and they rightfully put plenty of jam bands (Medeski Martin and Wood, and the like) to shame, they hardly reach the level that fans of Shipp's previous work would expect. Later tracks on Equilibrium, most notably "The Root," are better examples of Shipp's brilliant ability to morph the computerized elements of modern music with the rich language of jazz tradition.

Shipp's Equilibrium may well be the album that breaks Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, and the New York City free jazz scene, into the mainstream. Though Shipp and his brethren have yet to be accepted by the rest of the jazz community, the open-minded listeners of hip-hop and electronic music will be most willing to embrace Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver and Khan Jamal as the cutting edge artists they are.


Track Listing: 1. Equilibrium 2. Vamp to Vibe 3. Nebula Theory 4. Cohesion 5. World of Blue Glass 6. Portal 7. The Root 8. The Key 9. Nu Matrix

Personnel: Matthew Shipp, piano; William Parker, bass; Khan Jamal, vibes; Gerald Cleaver, drums; Chris Flam, synths + programming.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

  • Thesis
    Thesis
    Matthew Shipp
    Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...
  • 4D
    4D
    Matthew Shipp
    4D
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Eric Dolphy Eric Dolphy
reeds
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
trumpet
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
piano
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer
piano
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar
Tim Berne Tim Berne
saxophone
David Murray David Murray
sax, tenor

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "The Evolution Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Evolution Suite
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Better Than Anything" CD/LP/Track Review Better Than Anything
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "R Train On The D Line" CD/LP/Track Review R Train On The D Line
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Swong" CD/LP/Track Review Swong
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!