Matthew Shipp went into retirement earlier this year at age 38, after seven years of recording some of the most adventurous free jazz piano in history. Recently Thirsty Ear convinced him to come out of his self-imposed retirement and record a quartet album entitled Pastoral Composure. His new quartet features trumpeter Roy Campbell, bassist William Parker, and drummer Gerald Cleaver.
A more sympathetic group has rarely existed in free jazz. Campbell's trumpet lines range from outright clear melodicism to wild pithy freedom; he's deftly supported by Parker's bass anchor and Cleaver's wide-ranging exploration of time. Meanwhile Shipp builds complex structures that evolve from simply stated solo melodies to thick and cerebral harmonic development. It's hard to praise this recording adequately: Pastoral Composure ranks as one of the most significant works in the history of free jazz. It's guaranteed to intrigue and satisfy fans approaching the work from the standpoint of swinging melodicism just as well as fans with a keener interest in creative exploration.
While the other members of Shipp's quartet have previously appeared on record, newcomer Gerald Cleaver has not. His work offers an inspiring glimpse of an emerging talent deserving of further documentation.
Track Listing: Gesture; Visions; Prelude to a Kiss; Pastoral Composure; Progression; Frere Jacques; Merge; Inner Order; XTU.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Roy Campbell: trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn; William Parker: bass; Gerald Cleaver:
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.