Home » Jazz Articles » Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation

Album Review

Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation


Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation
A sixtieth birthday might be greeted as a time of reflection, a looking back on a life well-lived. Or it might serve as a call to action, as it did for pianist Satoko Fujii as she celebrated her sixtieth trip around the sun by releasing twelve albums in 2018. Matthew Shipp also answers the call to action at hitting that six decade mark, though he probably won't take things as far as Fujii did. But who knows? He is a productive, multiple-albums-a-year artist.

In celebration of his sixtieth birthday in 2020, Shipp—always pushing his artistry forward—plans to offer up (at least) two albums. The first is Piano Equation, a solo outing which finds the artist expanding and, at the same time, focusing his vision, sounding, as always, as if he is delving into cosmic mysteries, painting sharp-angled auditory geometrics like a keyboard Picasso.

Percussive, often prickly angularity abounds; at times he seems to summon roiling thunderclouds. The title tune starts the disc with a quirky pensiveness, a fervid and unflinchingly exploratory rumination—on what is anybody's guess, some dark, algebraic seach for the melodic X factor perhaps. "Swing Note From Deep Space" finds Shipp channeling Sun Ra—in spirit if not in sound—as he pulls in ominous star-fueled sonic emissions out of the black void.

Shipp has been compared to Thelonious Monk. The percussive cragginess is there, but Monk wrote about seventy tunes and worked constant re-vistitations of them. Shipp is an inveterate explorer, constantly discovering new concepts: the funhouse mirror playfulness of "Clown Pulse," or the ominous murk that gives way to the tolling of the bell on "Cosmic Juice," the tune that closes out a particularly fine solo outing from Matthew Shipp.

Track Listing

Piano Equation; Swing Note from Deep Space; Piano In Hyperspace; Vortex Factor; Land of the Secrets; Void Equation; Tone Pocket; Clown Pulse; Radio Signals Equation; Emission; Cosmic Juice.


Matthew Shipp: piano.

Album information

Title: The Piano Equation | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Tao Forms

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz since 1995, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album



The Pan American Nutcracker Suite
Joe McCarthy's Afro Bop Alliance Big Band
The Power Station Sessions
The Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band
Sera Niebla
Nicolas Politzer
Xaybu: The Unseen
Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.