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Matthew Shipp: Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich

Dan McClenaghan By

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Pianist Matthew Shipp is prolific. Under his own name and in collaboration with with numerous other free-thinking jazzers—saxophonist Ivo Perlman in the forefront of these—CD releases seem to pour out of him. His best under his own name comes in the trio/duo/solo format. Piano Sutras (Thirsty Ear, 2013); The Conduct Of Jazz (Thirsty Ear, 2013); Piano Song (Thirsty Ear, 2017); and a duo set with drummer Bobby Kapp, Cactus, (Northern Spy Records, 2016) attest to his artistic focus and excellence.

Cruise the internet for profiles of and interviews with Shipp and he comes off as a prickly personality, a man assured of his own talents and unsympathetic to pigeon-holers, pretentious critics and label prospectors mining for a bunch of words aimed at pinning down his music.

His music just is.

So here comes a bunch of words concerning Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich, a solo piano outing by Shipp.

Shipp approaches the piano with a pugilistic mindset. Think of a boxer, throwing hard flurries at the speed bag, then shuffling over to deliver a series of thunderous body shots into the gut of the heavy bag. It's a sound full of vehemence that rises at times to a fury. It's an approach he continues with on Invisible Touch At Taktlos. The set is a continuous, forty-five plus minutes without a pause, until the applause at the end of tune number 11, "It," that leads into a four minute encore. This stream of consciousness style suits Shipp, as it did Cecil Taylor on Olim (Soul Note, 1987). But Shipp is more visceral than Taylor, with more of a feel for interludes of crisp lyricism. His sound is denser.

Elaborate, even serpentine phrasings abound, punctuated by muscular chords and endlessly creative—even beautiful—tangents. "Monk's Nightmare" is a thunderstorm. "Instinctive Touch" wanders frenetically, spewing notes in rapid fire fashion. "Blue In Orion" injects a feeling of solemnity into the proceedings; "Gamma Ray" pulses, pretty and powerful. And in the middle of it all the standard "Tenderly" rises, sounding not all that tender, but rather ominous.

Matthew Shipps seems like a guy—musically a personally—who walks through the world with a chip on his shoulder. On Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich the chip is still there, but it sounds as if he sat down at the piano one night with that big, flat, flagstone shard balanced perfectly, and all things—life and art—were well with his world. The result is one of Matthew Shipp's finest and most riveting recordings.

Track Listing: Light Beam; Intro Z; Instinctive Touch; Pocket; Gamma Ray; Piece Within; Tenderly; Monk's Nightmare; Blue In Orion; It; Fairplay.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano

Title: Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Hatology

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