People, we all need to send Matthew Shipp a thank you note for Equilibrium a CD brimming with the kind of restorative music that puts the turmoil of your daily grind on hold, and a worthy follow up to last years #1 CMJ Jazz release Nu Bop. The mix of jazz elements and dance and hip hop stylings will fill your ears and grab your full attention; as you listen, you are immersed in a cocoon of sultry coolness.
Delaware native Shipp began playing piano as a child and his love for and intimate knowledge of the instrument are plainly heard in his work which is both strong and sensual, anchoring as well as shining. Shipp has surrounded himself with a phalanx of talented musicians including Gerald Cleaver, Chris Flam, and Khan Jamal, who share his vision of breaking the musical barriers and changing preconceived notions of both jazz and hip-hop and the results are dazzling as well as beautiful.
'Equilibrium' is awash with waves of lovely piano and vibraphone tones that linger in mid-air to be savored and Shipp's piano playing on 'Cohesion' sails over samples and skins with gorgeous clarity both sharp and full, punctuated with cleverly precise samples. On tracks like 'Vamp to Vibe' and "The Root,' the mixes of jazz and hip hop are totally successful, each style highlighting the excellence of the other; the super suave bass piano and percussion of 'Vamp' and flirtatious vibraphone, and the rock solid percussion and funkily sexy bass on 'Root' are simply delicious.
Equilibrium is the first of three major Shipp recordings in 2003 -- I'll be counting down the days til numbers two and three eagerly. Ciderjane
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