Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
396

Matthew Shipp: The Art Of The Improviser

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count Views
Matthew Shipp: The Art Of The Improviser By now, critical listeners have formed an opinion about the music of pianist Matthew Shipp. Like his musical predecessors Cecil Taylor and Thelonious Monk, Shipp is an uncompromising voice that tends to force listeners to queue up in line, either for him or against him. With the release of The Art Of The Improviser, he has essentially summed up his first fifty years on two CDs of resolute and committed music.

Like his previous 4D (Thirsty Ear, 2010), Shipp presents a solo recording of original compositions and one standard ("Fly Me To The Moon"), but this time adds a second disc with his new trio (since 2009), featuring bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey.

The first disc presents Shipp's trio, recorded live in Troy, NY in April, 2010. The five lengthy tracks act as a summation of his career so far, pulling music from previous releases as far back as Critical Mass (213CD, 1995) and The Multiplication Table (hatOLOGY, 1997), some of which he reworked on the more recent Harmony And Abyss (Thirsty Ear, 2004). Shipp often works with big themes; here he commands a steady swinging groove on "The New Fact," while trickling his two-handed improvisational explorations. By returning to the theme, he allows the audience to follow his logic. Likewise when he takes on a monument like "Take The 'A' Train," his dissection is not unlike a DJ's collage of sounds, where snatches of the familiar melody flash by, as if trying to read graffiti on a passing boxcar. The trio also pursues his early classic composition, "Circular Temple," with a reverence for the open chamber free piece, plotting a persistent course of freedom with as much confidence as the younger Shipp demonstrated when he first recorded it.

The solo CD delivers some very inspired music-making, a reminder that the language Shipp he has invented can be subtle and achingly beautiful ("4D") or dense and very dark ("Wholetone"). "Wholetone" progresses as if Shipp is juggling disparate objects: his left hand, pounding dense chords; his right, gamboling. This yin and yang approach makes for a dynamic sound, and showcases Shipp's passion for the music. Tracks such as "Gamma Ray" play with a recurring theme, not unlike a show tune, tethering his explorations of freedom with melody.

Regardless of the approach, Shipp's playing—with or without a net—will be detested by detractors and praised by advocates, making The Art of the Improviser one of his best performances on disc.


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).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop For Jazz

  • Thesis
    Thesis
    Matthew Shipp
    Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...
  • 4D
    4D
    Matthew Shipp
    4D
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Live in Seattle
Live in Seattle
Origin Records
2016
buy
Cactus
Cactus
Northern-Spy Records
2016
buy
Our Lady Of The Flowers
Our Lady Of The...
Rogueart Records
2015
buy
I've Been To Many Places
I've Been To Many...
Thirsty Ear Recordings
2015
buy
The Conduct of Jazz
The Conduct of Jazz
Thirsty Ear Recordings
2015
buy
To Duke
To Duke
Rogue Art
2015
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Eric Dolphy Eric Dolphy
reeds
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
trumpet
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
piano
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer
piano
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.