Matthew Shipp

Matthew Shipp at 50


Chicago Tribune
Howard Reich

It doesn't seem so long ago that pianist Matthew Shipp emerged as a fiery iconoclast of the piano, a fearless experimenter whose tempestuous soliloquies ranged freely among jazz, classical and avant-garde idioms.

Shipp recently turned 50, and to mark the occasion he has released a monumental double-CD, "Art of the Improviser" (Thirsty Ear).

Though not for timid ears, Shipp's pianism sounds as galvanic as ever, but especially on the second CD, which documents a live solo piano recital. Few pianists command a comparable improvisational imagination, nor the technical wherewithal to realize it. Shipp sounds similarly dynamic in the live trio recording of the first CD, which with the exception of an overly long bass solo early in the recording flies like the wind. Ultimately, "The Art of the Improviser" not only sums up Shipp's achievements to date but points promisingly toward important music yet to come.

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