Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

303

Matthew Shipp: The Art of the Improviser

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Any who have witnessed Matthew Shipp in action over the past few years will know that the pianist's bravura concert displays often eclipse his studio output. Unlike many jazz musicians the vast majority of Shipp's oeuvre has been recorded away from an audience. His previous four releases on Thirsty Ear have alternated between trio and solo format, but now he combines the two on this double-disc live album.

With its echo of Ornette Coleman's similarly monikered collection of outtakes, and a hint of Brad Mehldau's Art of the Trio Warner Brothers series, the album title stakes out Shipp's place as one of the foremost piano stylists on the modern jazz scene. Each disc manifests a continuous stream, drawing deep from his repertoire along with one standard. On the first, documenting a performance in Troy, New York, the pianist is joined by longtime collaborator Whit Dickey on drums, and new trio member Michael Bisio on bass, while on the second, from New York City's Poisson Rouge, Shipp is alone at the keyboard.

Even though his associations with such heavyweights as saxophonists David S. Ware and Roscoe Mitchell might position Shipp at the difficult end of the spectrum, there is nothing here which should cause alarm in the 21st century. Although free in the sense that there may be no predetermined course, the pianist references tunes (his own and those of others) as lucent beacons in otherwise uncharted waters. Melodies ring out, periodically obscured by crashing depth charge chords or by an austere classicism, but nonetheless they can still swing with verve.

Stellar interplay characterizes the trio program, with Bisio's cleanly articulated arco a muscular thrum, maintaining a constant counterpoint to Shipp's idiosyncratic mix of sunshine and thunder. Dickey adds a further layer of complexity, with his intricate cymbal patterns overlaying his pulsing polyrhythms. Each gets a solo feature, forming a segue between themes, with Bisio's particularly fine; his lyricism tumbling down the bass clef in an explosion of bent, slurred notes and buzzing multiple strings, delivered with a gravitas reminiscent of Charlie Haden. Billy Strayhorn's "Take The 'A' Train" fits easily into Shipp's universe, testament to the set's accessibility, while the majestic processional of "Virgin Complex" augmented by Bisio's haunting bowing, makes a fantastic closer.

Starting out with the title track from 4D (Thirsty Ear, 2010), the solo outing offers a more intimate glimpse of the pianist's methods. The trademark rhythmic repetitions, effervescent motifs and bass register crashes are all there, but regularly tempered by a romantic melodicism which can even, at times, recall Keith Jarrett. "Take Me To The Moon" peeks slyly out from the freewheeling improv, before segueing smoothly into the insistent refrain of "Wholetone." Providing another gentle yet satisfying conclusion is the beautifully rippling "Patmos," one of the highlights from One (Thirsty Ear, 2008).

This double-disc set ranks among Shipp's finest work and, while it is not quite career-defining, it forms a wonderful summation of his work in recent years.

Track Listing: CD1: The New Fact; 3 In 1; Circular Temple Number 1; Take The A Train; Virgin Complex. CD2: 4-D; Fly Me To The Moon; Wholetone; Model; Gamma Ray' Patmos.

Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Michael Bisio: bass (CD1); Whit Dickey: drums (CD2).

Title: The Art Of The Improviser | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Thesis

Thesis

Matthew Shipp
Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...

4D

4D

Matthew Shipp
4D

Radio
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Year in Review
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Signature

Signature

ESP Disk
2019

buy
New American Songbooks, Volume 2

New American...

Pleasure Of Text Records
2019

buy
Sonic Fiction

Sonic Fiction

ESP Disk
2018

buy
Symbol Systems

Symbol Systems

Hatology
2018

buy
Zero

Zero

ESP Disk
2018

buy
New American Songbooks, Volume 2

New American...

Pleasure Of Text Records
2018

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
May24Fri
Shipp/lowe/cleaver/ray
Firehouse 12
New Haven, CT
$10-20
May31Fri
Matthew Shipp Trio
An Die Musik Live
Baltimore, MD
$10-20
May31Fri
Matthew Shipp Trio
An Die Musik Live
Baltimore, MD
$10-20
Jun1Sat
Matthew Shipp Trio
First Presbyterian Church
Charlottesville, VA
$15 12 , 10 . 20 .
Jun2Sun
Matthew Shipp Trio
The Vanguard Brew Pub And Distillery
Hampton, VA
Jun14Fri
Matthew Shipp / William Parker Duo
Roulette
Brooklyn, NY
$40

Related Articles

Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019
Read Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You Album Reviews
Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
By Dan McClenaghan
May 24, 2019
Read Nexus Album Reviews
Nexus
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 23, 2019
Read The Second Coming Album Reviews
The Second Coming
By Daniel Barbiero
May 23, 2019
Read Luminária Album Reviews
Luminária
By John Sharpe
May 23, 2019