Matthew Shipp Trio, "Harmonic Disorder"
by Steve Greenlee, Boston Globe
Pianist Matthew Shipp, one of jazz's most original "outside" musicians, has an easily identifiable sound.
He favors thick clusters of notes, dense swirls, and lower-register rumbles. But the tune that opens his trio's upcoming album, "Harmonic Disorder," is remarkably cheery. With clean lines, a bright melody, a walking bass line by Joe Morris, and syncopated drumming by Whit Dickey, "GNG" could be mistaken for straight-ahead bop, if not for the untraditional chord changes. But then the storm clouds immediately descend for a dark take of "There Will Never Be Another You," which leads to the title track, an unsettling ballad in a minor key.
Shipp is equally adept at composing as improvising, but his deconstruction of "Someday My Prince Will Come" alone is worth the album's price. Shipp has had a lot of highlights already in his career - with trios, duos, solo outings, and electronic experiments - but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this disc is his finest yet.
With emphasis on unusual structures, unexpected harmonic improvisation, and emotions that run the gamut, "Harmonic Disorder" feels like the culmination of everything Shipp has been thinking over the years. (Out Jan. 27)
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