Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Matthew Shipp Trio, Elastic Aspects

The Matthew Shipp Trio today are a group like no other out there. Why? Because each of them have played through the bumps and jolts of the initial dues-paying period and ultimately triumphed as players of themselves. Surely there are influences, but as you listen to their new recording Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear 57202.2) you hear a group of artists who have become tempered in the fire of the scuffle to become their own instruments of expression. Matthew probes and hammers out his own vocabulary, new thing, repeating figures, harmonic-melodic vertical-horizontal aspects that come out of roots and branch upwards, rhythmic diversity, inside-the-piano extensions. Michael Bisio prods the bass with punctuated hammering, walks smartly like he is sure of the goal, plays arco with an individually distinctive tone and projective phrasing and fits into the group situation with his own version of what to do. Whit Dickey has his own version, too, in his case of the drum tradition and how it can be extended, whether it be in the playing time mode or with cascading freedom, and the grey areas in between.

There are 13 improvisational excursions on the album, each distinct. There are unaccompanied solos, duets and full trio segments. They fit together as pieces of what is NOW. In the end you get a very creative take on the new piano trio and how, in Shipp and Company's hands, it goes where it will and owes nothing to anybody. You can build, they seem to say, your own musical personality as individual and as a group in the full heat of the battle to survive and prevail. They do that here.

It is one of the important piano trios operating today. You cannot afford to miss them.

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