Matthew Shipp

by Ted Gioia

The idea of displacing a repeated melodic motif to create syncopation is as old as ragtime, but Matthew Shipp does it with such jarring effectiveness in the head of this track that you may think that your CD is mistracking.

No, it's just Shipp's serpentine melody turning in on itself. This 5/4 gem is like "Epistrophy" on steroids.

And (like Monk) Shipp doesn't just jam on the changes when the melody is over, but pursues a holistic vision linking the composed and improvised sections of his piece. The meter shifts for the piano solo, but Shipp maintains the ambiance with his distinctive phraseology, building his solo from fragments of increasing complexity while laying down contrasting chords that are big and thick like pillars holding up a cathedral.

No empty flourishes or practice-room licks here, just probing piano trio work from one of the most distinctive musical voices on the scene.

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