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Matthew Shipp



Your Shipp Has Come In
By Mark Corroto
All About Jazz

These two guest appearances demonstrate that pianist Matthew Shipp has become an elder statesman in the jazz world. How that happened can be boiled down to two simple elements. One: he has created a unique sound and language for improvised music and two: Shipp has become a doyen of cutting edge music making and opinion.


Perhaps all of this could be foretold from his early apprenticeship in David S. Ware and Roscoe Mitchell's bands, and his collaborations with the likes of William Parker, Joe Morris, and Mat Maneri. He has also explored classical music, hip-hop, and electronica as the artistic director for the label Thirsty Ear Recording. Recently, besides his solo and trio work, his creative energies have paired agreeably with saxophonist Ivo Perelman and his various ensembles.

These two new recordings emphasize not only the pianist's now distinctive sound, but more importantly how it feeds other musicians, elevating their music.
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The Core Trio
The Core Trio featuring Matthew Shipp
Freebass Productions 2014

The Houston-based Core Trio of saxophonist Seth Paynter, drummer Joe Hertenstein and bassist/leader Thomas Helton have released two prior discs, both collaboration projects from 2013, one improvised disc with pianist Robert Boston and a second Discontent (FreeBass Productions) with The Torture Chamber Trio, a clarinet chamber ensemble.

With Shipp in the studio, the untitled disc-length improvisation unfolds and blossoms with nary a lag or disagreeable moment. Shaped by the pianist's tendency to work in blocks and clusters of chords, the energy of this piece vacillates between dense passages and butterfly-light remarks. Does Shipp lead here, or merely respond? The answer is yes and yes. He can nudge Paynter's saxophone into dolefulness or ignite sheets of high octane sound. The response of The Core Trio is quite perceptive.

Hertenstein's drums, which can be heard on the recording Future Drone (Jazzwerkstatt, 2012) with Jon Irabagon and HNH (Clean Feed, 2010) with Pascal Niggenkemper and Thomas Heberer, volley between minimal accents and a wavy bebop beat.

The order/disorder is the invention of leader and bassist Thomas Helton. Sounding much like William Parker (perhaps the highest compliment available), his bass is an endless source of energy. His playing is the fuel for this glorious session, supercharging his trio and their guest, Mr. Shipp.

. . . available at TheCoreTrio.BandCamp.com

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Alternating Current
Jeff Cosgrove / Matthew Shipp / William Parker
Self Produced
2014

This classic piano trio setting of piano/bass/drums eschews tradition except for that which has been developed by Matthew Shipp. That said, Alternating Current, recorded under the leadership of drummer Jeff Cosgrove, fits nicely into the pianist's trio discography, and Cosgrove shows himself an equal with Shipp's regular drummers Whit Dickey and Gerald Cleaver.

Cosgrove is a colorist, not unlike his role model Paul Motian, whom his previous recording Motian Sickness—The Music of Paul Motian (Self Produced, 2012), was dedicated to.

This studio recording includes a 39-minute opener, "Bridges of Tomorrow," that features the drummer's tom-toms and the bowed bass of Parker. Shipp is free to fly with his proprietary chamber jazz sound. Where other pianists wouldn't dare mix modern classical and minimalist sound with a Cecil Taylor filter, Shipp dares the listener to pigeonhole his music. As always, Parker has a sympathetic ear, regulating the energy systems of the session.

Cosgrove saves Paul Motian's beguiling melody of "Victoria" for last. At barely six minutes in length, the simplest piece here forms the greatest impression. The players tip toe through, playing the piece straight. Shipp twinkling a nostalgic piano, Parker marshaling a human pulse, and Cosgrove speaking with a Motian accent.



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Matthew Shipp Trio: Root Of Things

By Mark Corroto
All About Jazz

A mathematical equation can chart and explain everything in life, from the arc of a thrown baseball to the dynamical systems of chaos. The scientific study of deterministic chaos is a bit of an oxymoron, in that the mathematicians suggest everything can be graphed and explained by calculations.

The same can be said for the music of pianist Matthew Shipp. Like the music of Thelonious Monk before him, what once sounded complicated and indecipherable reveals itself through immersion into its depths.

He gives us a bit of a musical Rosetta stone by way of the trio recording Root Of Things with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey>. Perhaps, in this traditional triad setting, clarity is accomplished. Shipp has worked with Dickey as far back as 1990—Circular Temple (Infinite Zero, 1992) and Prism (Brinkman, 1993) and now with Bisio in this new trio. Their previous releases were a live recording, Art Of The improviser (Thirsty Ear, 2011) and studio session, Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear, 2012). The trio also collaborated with saxophonist Ivo Perelman's on his stellar disc The Edge (Leo Records, 2013).

The levitating nature of the opening track finds the piano gliding over the bucolic background painted by Dickey's streaming drums and cymbal flavors. The piece meanders, unoccupied by time constraints, in a meditative structure. Shipp's notes are cast in patterns, unrecognizable at first, but then they seamlessly find an order. Same goes for "Jazz It," where Dickey and Bisio lay down a conventional groove for the pianist to expand on the jazz tradition of Monk, Cecil Taylor, and Ran Blake.

Shipp's compositions find a sympathetic treatment with this trio. There is less push and more cooperation here than say, in duo or even in a solo setting. With a piece like "Pulse Code," that opens with Dickey's drum parade, the music maintains a soto voce. Shipp and Bisio enter three minutes into this four minute song, spinning notes that threaten entropy, but never end in disorder. Same for the disc's finale, "Solid Circut," which opens with a piano solo, a left-hand/right-hand tug-of-warring of notes. The tussle expands into trio, effortlessly enunciating Shipp's phraseology, making his locutions neither chaotic nor uncertain.


Root Of Things
. . . available at Relative Pitch Records

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