Matthew Shipp: The Unidentifiable

Dan McClenaghan By

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Matthew Shipp: The Unidentifiable
We can talk about a Bud Powell school of the piano trio, or a Bill Evans school of the piano trio, but maybe it is time to start talking about Mathew Shipp's trio school, with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker. Shipp has been around the jazz scene for three decades. He has developed a distinctive voice. He sounds like no-one else. If you can't start your own school under those circumstances, then when can you?

2019's Signature (ESP-Disk) featured this particular ensemble, so the disc in hand, The Unidentifiable, can be seen as a follow-up of sorts, the Shipp/Bisio/Baker teaming in search of cosmic mysteries via piano, bass and drums, beginning with "Blue Transit System," a more reflective and gentle tune than those that come readily to mind when considering Shipp's often prickly, forward momentum artistry. "Trance Frame" turns a corner, offering up an edgy but understated two-minute drum solo, before moving into a more characteristically turbulent direction with "Phantom Journey," Shipp and company surging ahead, throwing elbows and stepping on toes.

The trio paints beautifully with the darker hues; "Dark Sea Negative Charge" seems to drift over black water, a spacious delivery leaving room for eddies of silence and opaque sustain, while "The Dimension" features Shipp breaking off piano notes like shards of glass, and "The Loop" sounds furtive and discombobulated at the same time, with a roiling, follow-the-leader trio dynamic.

This trio crafts Shipp's most original sound, the title tune an anthem, "Regeneration" sounding as if it wants to break into a funhouse mirror samba, and "New Heaven and New Earth" rumbling out in a stealth mode, with Shipp stabbing sharp angles into the mix as the trio pulls the proceedings to the free side of sound, clamorous and percussive, not a hint of a chink in the three way bravado. The Matthew Shipp School of Piano Trio.

Track Listing

Blue Transport System; Trance Frame; Phantom Journey; Dark Sea Negative Charge; The Dimension; Loop; The Unidentifiable; Virgin Psych Space; Virgin Psych Space; Regeneration; New Heaven and New Earth.


Matthew Shipp: piano; Michael Bisio: bass, acoustic; Newman Taylor Baker: drums.

Album information

Title: The Unidentifiable | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: ESP Disk

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