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Although Prism was recorded live in 1993 and originally released on the relatively obscure Brinkman Records label, pianist Matthew Shipp's self-induced sabbatical from recording seems to be a thing of the past. Along with some recent endeavors for the AUM Fidelity label and other modern jazz-based outfits, Shipp has been fairly active these days while also emerging as one of the premier improvising pianists on the planet. Here, Shipp performs alongside the venerable and highly influential bassist/composer William Parker and drummer Whit Dickey.
Prism comprises two lengthy pieces, "Prism I" and "Prism II." Essentially the trio produces a great wall of sound, marked by the pianist's surging and notably percussive lower register attack as the band remains in perpetual motion throughout most of this affair. And while the musicians do find time to stretch their respective wares, Shipp's compositions are seemingly geared towards a composite group sound. However, on the thirty-minute "Prism I," there is less deviation from a state of immutable flux whereas, the band switches gears more often on "Prism II."
No doubt, these are some of the finest improvisers in the business yet Shipp's reverence for pounding out huge block chords in often-pulsating fashion, becomes a bit hypnotic or in some instances might make you wish he would explore other alternatives. Otherwise, Prism is a relatively strong and noteworthy addition to Matthew Shipp's increasingly significant legacy.
Track Listing: Prism I; Prism II.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: double bass; Whit Dickey: drums.
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.