Matthew Shipp

Do the Math, Destination: Out

Shipp's career gives the lie to the notion of progress in the story of jazz. Shipp remains difficult to slot into the standard narrative. Inheritor of Cecil Taylor's school of dynamic pianism?

Not entirely. Updater of Powell/Monk's fractured romanticism? Maybe somewhat. Straddling the tradition and a forward looking experimentalism, Shipp instead embodies a kind of quantum theory of jazz, where all styles coexist simultaneously, and a player can dip as easily into 1959 as 2007.

What makes Shipp truly important is his ability to refract traditional jazz standards, classical textures, free improv, percussive tumult, and lyrical melody through his own musical prism. The results never sound like a patchwork grabbag of styles. No matter how far he strays, Shipp's playing always bears the unmistakable stamp of a particular and distinctive vision. He's got many sounds-but they're all his.

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