It's been ten years since Thirsty Ear tempted Matthew Shipp out of his recording exile, and in that time he has not only made some of his most adventurous recordings for the label but has proven to be a daring A&R man as well. Now, a decade in, he seems to be circling back on his career. While some of the strongest projects on the label's Blue Series (including his own) have worked electronic instruments into jazz settings, Shipp has returned to the piano trio and two of his oldest musical relationships.
His new group with Joe Morris and Whit Dickey, which first appeared on 2007's Piano Vortex, returns with Harmonic Disorder, a set of 14 brief pieces (three under three minutes, only one tops six) that follow the graceful ease of the previous album while recalling the punch of his earliest records. The band sounds fine and is a strong vehicle for guitarist Morris' recent bass playing, but the record moves all too quickly. The calypso crawl of "Mel Chi 1," for example, barely has time to make itself known, when the band could have done so much with it. Their takes on "There Will Never Be Another You" and "Someday My Prince Will Come" invert the problem, familiar melodies barely surfacing as the tracks whiz by. The production itself feels rushed as well, lacking the label's customary crispness. It's a good album, but somehow it ends up feeling like a demo from Shipp's past.
Track Listing: GNG; There Will Never Be Another You; Harmonic Disorder; Someday My Prince Will Come; Mel Chi 2; Mr. JM; Mel Chi 1; Roe; Orb; Compost; Zo Number 2; Quantum Waves; Light; When the Curtain Falls on the Jazz Theater.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Joe Morris: bass; Whit Dickey: drums.