Recent months in 2016 have seen the release of at least a half-dozen albums featuring Matthew Shipp including The Uppercut
(ESP-Disk) with Polish reed player Mat Walerian, Live in Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004
(AUM Fidelity), a duo release with the late David S. Ware
, the Bobby Kapp duo recording Cactus
(Northern-Spy Records) and The Core Trio Live Featuring Matthew Shipp
(Evil Rabbit Records). The four represent a broadly diverse array of music and now Piano Song
further expands the artist's portfolio.
Shipp's trio includes bassist Michael Bisio
, a regular Shipp collaborator since Art of the Improviser
(Thirsty Ear, 2011). The two demonstrate a synergistic work relationship in the midst of Shipp's often asymmetrical approach. The accomplished (and under-recognized) drummer Newman Taylor Baker
joined Shipp's trio with the release of The Conduct of Jazz
(Thirsty Ear, 2015), and has proven to be a perfectly attuned successor to the rhythmic Whit Dickey
Within Piano Song
, Shipp touches on elements that would have been at home on a number of his previous projects, which is not to say that there isn't a consistency to the material as presented here. The piano solo "Links" opens the album as a reflective motif, quietly setting the stage for the hard-bop "Cosmopolitan," an early highlight of the album. The longest piece in the collection features outstanding solos from all members. More holistically exotic are the compositions "Blue Desert" and "Void of Sea" while "Microwave" and "Gravity Point" are fast-paced and angular with prominent block chords dropping in for dramatic effect. The title track closes Piano Song
as it had opened; a contemplative finish to a varied program.
Over the past three decades, Shipp has written and played to a larger purpose, eschewing the tyranny of convention, signifying a preternatural ability to maintain focus across a diverse styles. He seems to view preconceived notions of creative music as arbitrary benchmarks; jumping-off points to a more eclectic way of thinking. With Piano Song
Shipp has remained unbending in his singular vision, on this, his final recording for the Thirsty Ear label. He will continue on as the label's Artistic Director and he will undoubtedly give us many more years of unparalleled music.