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Matthew Shipp: Piano Sutras

Mark Corroto By

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There is a sort of primitivism that can be found at the edges of advanced physics and mathematics. The same sort of primitivism is at the heart of pianist Matthew Shipp's music. Just as one can speak of the sweet science (or art) of boxing, the pianist plays with a violent beauty.

Piano Sutras is his seventh solo recording following the Thirsty Ear discs 4D (2010) and One (2006) and Un Piano (Rogue Art, 2008), Songs (Splasc(h), 2002), Creation Out Of Nothing (SoLyd, 2010), and Before The Worlds (FMR, 1995).

Each of his prior outings act as the DNA building blocks for these sutras or musical truths. Here he reveals his fully formed lingua franca—a mixture of musical languages from Sun Ra to Satie to Cecil Taylor. Like a boxer he hits you so hard on "Uncreated Light" with his left hand, pounding the keys, that you beg for his forgiving right, which dances notes off the vibrations of the left. Shipp's playing is part algebraic and part entropy. He weaves a formalism into the title track that suggest a structure and logic, only to have it uprush in a new and different direction. His language is best understood from the Rosetta stone he sets before us in the covers of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti," played nearly straight. His one minute take on the Coltrane classic slows the tempo down, revealing the inner logic of one of music's most perfect songs. "Nefertiti" is sped up a bit and spoken in Shipp's dialect—an orchestration of hands and a deepening of exploration. Shipp maintains his musical ascendency throughout. "Blue To A Point" flirts with, then teleports past the rudiments of the blues into his signature dynamism. Shipp's music juggles all the balls at once feigning danger, all the while plotting a course for his new world.

Track Listing: Piano Sutras; Cosmic Shuffle; Surface to Curve; Blue To A Point; Cosmic Dust; Giant Steps; Uncreated Light; Fragment Of A Whole; Space Bubble; Nefertiti; Angelic Brain Cell; Silent Cube; The Indivisible.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano.

Title: Piano Sutras | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

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