Downbeat - ‘’A musician who deserves a place of choice in the jazz piano pantheon—Matthew Shipp is the connection between this past,present and future for jazz heads of all ages .’’
All About Jazz - ‘’I like to think of Matthew Shipp’s music in the same light as that of Eric Dolphy and Charlie Parker –what I am getting at here is that there are giants that live amongst us. If you’ve had an opportunity to witness Shipp you’ll understand the presence he commands . Like Thelonious Monk he has created a musical vocabulary and language that is idiosyncratic and incomparable in today’s improvised jazz.’’
Matthew Shipp, piano
Michael Bisio, bass
Newman Taylor Baker, drums
'Signature’ by Matthew Shipp Review: Where Radical Thinkers Are Prime Movers
As the head of his trio, Mr. Shipp’s ability to lure, more so than to lead, his associates into the wild thicket of ideas proposed by his playing makes for transformative musical exchanges.
Feb. 20, 2019 2:56 p.m. ET
Twenty years ago, and once or twice again since, pianist Matthew Shipp announced his retirement from recording. Yet he never stopped. Maybe the declarations were mere publicity stunts. If anything, he picked up the pace, adding somewhat furiously to a catalog that now includes more than 80 albums as a leader or co-leader—recordings through which Mr. Shipp has helped define, with uncommon distinction, a fresh range of possibilities for contemporary pianism grounded in jazz tradition.
Mr. Shipp, who is 58 years old, stirred up fervent rhythmic propulsion and wove intricate, weblike harmonic patterns on even his earliest recordings, including those in a quartet led by the powerhouse saxophonist David S. Ware. His playing sounded new 30 years ago and has lost none of its edge. His approach branded him early on as an avant-garde outlier. Yet times—though not Mr. Shipp—have changed. His latest release, “Signature” (ESP-Disk), the third and best recording to date from his current trio with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, befits a current jazz landscape in which radical thinkers are prime movers. And Mr. Shipp’s ability to lure, more so than to lead, his associates into the wild thicket of ideas proposed by his playing makes for transformative musical exchanges in any context.
On the new “Signature,” Mr. Shipp toys with the nature of his trio, partly through the use of brief interludes from his partners. One of these, “Deep to Deep,” revels in the overtones from a single bowed note from Mr. Bisio’s bass. It’s both a palate cleanser and an introduction to the tumble of low-end notes with which Mr. Shipp begins “Flying Saucer,” during which the trio first gains momentum, and which ends with an excited rumination on a three-note figure. That energy gets distilled through “Snap,” a brief track that focuses on Mr. Baker’s snare-drum technique. It sounds formless yet establishes the phrasing of “The Way,” a long and dense trio piece that moves through several moods without losing continuity. Mr. Baker, who has mastered both trap-set conventions and more free-flowing percussion (he uses shakers, drum rims and a rainstick to great effect on one interlude), and Mr. Bisio, who is equally adept at bowing and plucking his bass, are well suited to Mr. Shipp’s predilection for finding fertile ground between accessibility and abstraction.
Like his career, with its quick ascent and false retirements, Mr. Shipp’s music toys with the very acts of starting and stopping. Its tensions and releases raise complex questions and yet invite listeners in.
—Mr. Blumenfeld writes about jazz and Afro-Latin music for the Journal.
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