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"Greatest Hits" compilations are not releases normally associated with jazz musicians, and especially not with pianist as decidedly avant-garde as Matthew Shipp.
Shipp explains that "My impetus for creating this CD was that I have a vast catalogue which I don't think the jazz world has started to absorb yet. I selected the tunes by which ones stood out in reviews of my CDs, which tunes had received the most airplay, or compositions I had received the most feedback on from friends and fans alike."
As such, it is an introductionand an able one, a window into Shipp's compositional soul.
An almost militaristic drum roll mark the beginning of "Gesture," and commences a sonic journey through Greatest Hits, a splendid collection that pairs Shipp with such accomplished bassist as William Parker and Michael Bisio, and drummers of the quality of Whit Dickey. The twelve tracks, taken from eleven different CDs, travel through different sonic universes. "Module" and "4D " provide a window into his solo space, always evocative and frequently meditational. Others, such as "Cohesion," add synthesizers and programming for effect. Horn tracks are limited, but trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and saxophonist/flautist Daniel Carter each join Shipp on a track. It all draws to a close with "Circular Temple #1," from the double-disc trio/solo outing, Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear, 2011).
All in all, a great introduction to one of the most engaging and cutting edge pianists in the jazz world today.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.