All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

396

Matthew Shipp: The Art Of The Improviser

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
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).

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Thesis

Thesis

Matthew Shipp
Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...

4D

4D

Matthew Shipp
4D

CD/LP/Track Review
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Read more articles
Sonic Fiction

Sonic Fiction

ESP Disk
2018

buy
Zero

Zero

ESP Disk
2018

buy
Not Bound

Not Bound

For Tune
2017

buy
Piano Song

Piano Song

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2017

buy

Related Articles

Read SuperClusters CD/LP/Track Review
SuperClusters
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Your Queen Is A Reptile CD/LP/Track Review
Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Melodious Drum CD/LP/Track Review
Melodious Drum
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 21, 2018
Read The Speed of Dark CD/LP/Track Review
The Speed of Dark
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren" CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Tensegridad" CD/LP/Track Review Tensegridad
by John Sharpe
Published: January 2, 2018
Read "Killing Bugs" CD/LP/Track Review Killing Bugs
by Kevin Press
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "The World Of Captain Beefheart" CD/LP/Track Review The World Of Captain Beefheart
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 11, 2018
Read "The Wishing Stones" CD/LP/Track Review The Wishing Stones
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: January 13, 2018