Let the celebration of pianist Matthew Shipp's 60th birthday year 2020 commence with The Piano Equation. Having released a dozen or so prior solo sessions, this also is a recording sans nostalgia. Shipp, like Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, or Thelonious Monk before him, does not pine for the past, but ceaselessly forges a path onward. And outward.
As with the esteemed masters listed above, Shipp has created his own piano language, best described as a percussive decoding of his unique double helix DNA signature. The title track is a preamble, an algebraic equation as procession. Even though we were promised there would be no math on this test, you cannot ignore the fact that Shipp's music inscribes dense and somewhat impenetrable equations all over the blackboard of his sound. "Swing Note From Deep Space" sprinkles a few right-handed Monkisms against a marching left hand before plinking down dancing notes like raindrops. He can stamp heavy metal notes on "Cosmic Juice" or set the twilight reeling with piano recital sounds on "Tone Pocket" and the romanticism of "Land Of Secrets."
Shipp is in full command. There are no surprises, at least not for him. Listeners get a full dose of his jazz abstractions here. "Radio Signals Equation" might be the analog equivalent to computer coding. His left hand creates its own gravitational pull which slings his right hand off at angles that orbit around this attraction, all the while sizzling and popping with energy. "Clown Pulse" may have been taken its inspiration from Charles Mingus Atlantic Record years with a nod to the bebop of Jaki Byard. The signature track here is "Emission." It's quietude belies the inherent complexity of Shipp's composition. Like a diamond cutter working on a priceless stone, he carves the complex gem with a master's imperturbability.
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.
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