191

Matthew Shipp: Matthew Shipp's New Orbit

Todd S. Jenkins By

Sign in to view read count
Well, Matthew Shipp has finally grabbed my ear and won’t let go. After several years of not quite knowing what to make of pianist Shipp’s avant-jazz creations, this new album has cleaned out the wax and got me to thinkin’. Maybe it’s the gripping presence of Wadada Leo Smith, who replaced the less accessible (but assuredly most talented) Roy Campbell in this quartet’s trumpet chair. Shipp’s compositions also seem more interesting this time around, and the group interplay and improvisations are compelling, questioning, full of tension. Whatever the case, this is a fascinating album that might, and should, win Shipp some new fans.

The touching Orbit theme is revisited four times on this disc, viewed and analyzed from different angles. Track #1 is an interpretation by the full quartet: Shipp sustains the high chordal majesty; William Parker’s bass thrums subtlely; drummer Gerald Cleaver swells and tinkers while staying unobtrusive; and Smith glides authoritatively over it all with the dark power of Miles Davis. On track #3 Shipp reviews the theme by himself, bringing an almost classical air to the music. Parker takes many chances with the tune on track #5, an arco bass solo filled with double-stops and staccato chugging. The short final version is a duet for piano and arco bass, perhaps more syncopated than the other renditions but no less commanding. Could Shipp have composed a future post-bop standard? Time will tell, but Orbit certainly has the potential for further evaluation by other artists.

The remaining tracks are a diverse lot. #2 is a sparse piano/drum duet, an exercise in musical pointillism under cloudy skies. The pensive #7 shows off Shipp’s refined taste in harmony and chord voicings, along with Smith’s underappreciated capabilities as a balladric player. Smith is also up-front on #4, blowing tremulously on the mysterious melody, solo at first and later floating along on the rhythm section’s moist heat. His braying, fleeting trumpet is also buoyed by Parker’s bass drone on #9. Track #6 is rapid and toothy, a more typical free-jazz excursion sans piano; #8 is brief, fragmented and searching.

This quartet is a band of potent ideas. They know just how to shape and explore without getting bogged down in the material, as so many avant-garde sessions end up. Shipp and his quartet are on to something good, and their future releases will bear watching to see how this well-chosen ensemble continues to develop. In the interim, if you’re looking for an introduction to Matthew Shipp, I believe this disc might be a good, approachable starting point. (http://www.thirstyear.com)


Track Listing: New Orbit; Paradox X; Orbit 2; Chi; Orbit 3; U Feature; Syntax; Maze Hint; Paradox Y; Orbit 4.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp, piano; Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet; William Parker, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums.

| 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 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 June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "It's The Peace That Deafens" CD/LP/Track Review It's The Peace That Deafens
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Fugitive Beauté" CD/LP/Track Review Fugitive Beauté
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Andrew Luhn
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Yellow Red Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Yellow Red Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 2, 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!