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

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

Related Articles

Read First Nature Album Reviews
First Nature
By Troy Dostert
July 19, 2019
Read Terra Incognita Album Reviews
Terra Incognita
By Dan McClenaghan
July 19, 2019
Read Sacred Kind of Love: The Columbia Recordings Album Reviews
Sacred Kind of Love: The Columbia Recordings
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 19, 2019
Read Perhaps Album Reviews
Perhaps
By Don Phipps
July 19, 2019
Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019