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While Matthew Shipp's more recent releases focus on a mixture of avant garde electronica and trip-hop, he returns to his roots and a back-to-basics approach with the songs on One. The album, the latest release in Thirsty Ear's Blue Series (for which Shipp does A&R work), consists of nothing but a man and his piano, and the result is light, acoustic fare that brings to mind several classics.
Shipp's newer fans may be hesitant to embrace his acoustic side, but the songs on One speak for themselves, and successive listens show that while Shipp definitely enjoys his straight piano work, he is not really covering any new ground. His playing sounds similar to his work on Harmony And Abyss or Equilibrium, sans samples and programmed beats. It's a refreshing departure, actually. "Patmos" and "Milky Way" harken back to George Winston's December (to me at least), while "The Encounter" and "Module" both bring to mind faint touches of McCoy Tyner. Shipp, with twenty-plus years in "the business," may not be as well-known as the legendsat least not yetbut he seems to know where he's going on One and appears content to experiment a bit in order to accomplish his goals.
Some of the songs meander a bit ("The Rose Is A Rose," for example), and the opening "Arc" seems a bit heavy-handed at first listen, but overall Shipp uses the album as an opportunity to express his lighter sideand without the modern aspects of some of his recent work, he's able to reach new heights of jazz piano.
Track Listing: Arc; Patmos; Gamma Ray; Milky Way; Blue In Orion; Electro Magnetism; The Encounter; The Rose Is A Rose; Ieou; Abyss Code; Zero; Module.
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.