Release Date: Feb 22, 2011
Record label: Thirsty Ear Recordings
Genre(s): Jazz, Avant-Garde, Piano Jazz, Jazz Instrument, Modern Composition, Avant-Garde Jazz
Over the past decade, pianist and improvising composer Matthew Shipp has had the good fortune of enjoying a working/curating relationship with the Connecticut indie label Thirsty Ear, and though it’s on a different scale than the artistic and business relationship John Coltrane had with Impulse! Records in the 1960s, there is a quality reminiscent of that in Thirsty Ear’s Blue Series. Shipp has been able to use the label as a sort of sandbox, allowing him to experiment with electronic music and hip-hop as well as “traditional” avant-garde composition and improvisation in primarily small-group contexts. As part of a coterie of musicians — some veteran, some newcomers — around the saxophonist and composer David S.
Since the late 1980s, pianist Matthew Shipp has been rigorously investigating what it means to be an improvising musician by creating a musical language that is as expansive as it is intuitive emotionally, cerebrally, and emotionally following his own path alongside those of his predecessors Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, John Cage, and Morton Feldman. His explorations have taken him through jazz as a soloist, bandleader, and sideman to collaborative experiments with electronic sound and even modern classical music. He’s been prolific in documenting each chapter in his musical life.
There are jazz pianists, and there is Matthew Shipp. The guy actually has three hands: two to play the piano and one to thumb his nose at tradition. He’s got quite a mouth too, though it never seems to get him into a whole lot of trouble: “Fuck Herbie Hancock; fuck Wayne Shorter. On a certain level, fuck Louis Armstrong,” he said in an interview last year, accusing old veterans of becoming complacent in old age.
Shipp proves himself to be a true original across two excellent discs. Bill Tilland 2011 Once dismissed as a Cecil Taylor imitator because of his jagged, percussive attack, pianist Matthew Shipp has gone on to distinguish himself as a true original, incorporating not only the history of jazz piano but also the hypnotic repetition of minimalism. He is an "idea man", but not merely a musical intellectual – his music offers challenges aplenty while demonstrating wit and passion.