Friday, August 30, 2013

Matthew Shipp, Piano Sutras

Matthew Shipp goes his own way. Those who know his music know this. And I have no doubt that's the way it is going to be going forward too. A series of sketches and portraits of Maestro Shipp right now is to be heard to very good advantage on the new solo release Piano Sutras (Thirsty Ear THI57207.2).

In it you get 13 moods and modes of Shipp the pianist and improvising-composer-thinker today. Some have balladic thrust, some a free originated walking postbop, some fourth chorded modality, hard scrabbling cascades, tender introspections, new music jaunts, out blues, the sound of an important talent thinking out loud musically, and a few gem standards played the Shipp way: Trane's "Giant Steps" and Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" (and yes, this is respect for the elders so you can forget about jumping on something he said isolated and taken out of the conversational setting).

Like Monk, Matthew uses technique not to wow, but to express what he needs to, the way he needs to do it. It's not like, "oh look at me playing fast" or "look at me giving you everything including the kitchen sink, here." It's a matter instead of Matthew carving out blocks of sound by hand, raw inspiration harnessed to the man, the artist, the original pianist that he most certainly is.

It's improvised music that rings true because there isn't a hollow note in the lot. It's Matthew Shipp music. Make no mistake. And that can be sublime. Here, it IS. Here it is.

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