Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Matthew Shipp - Harmonic Disorder (Thirsty Ear, 2009)Matthew Shipp - Harmonic Disorder (Thirsty Ear, 2009)

Pianist Matthew Shipp seems to have re-committed himself to exploratory acoustic jazz in a trio format with Joe Morris on bass and Whit Dickey on drums. This is an interesting group that explores the twilight netherworld between structure and freedom, and between standards and originals. Shipp's music is very percussive, at times resembling the melodic percussion of Ahmad Jamal and others the thunderous percussion of Cecil Taylor. The tracks that I enjoyed the most were "Roe" with its strong full trio, playing like a deep underground well of emotion. Morris swings a hard, strong and elastic bass solo, and Shipp responds with deep bass piano chords alternating between stern and swing in an excellent performance. "Zo Number 2" is strong, throbbing and free, very fast and furious and featuring a storming drum solo from Dickey. It isn't all crash and thunder though, the group puts its own unique stamp on a couple of well known jazz standards, although you'd be hard pressed to recognize them. "There Will Never Be Another You" is taken at a low, ominous rumble, full of ominous low tones and menace. "Someday My Prince Will Come" is mid-tempo, melodic but slightly skewed as if being viewed through a fun house mirror becoming more urgent and frantic as the song progresses. This was a well done and thoughtful disc, Shipp and company are capable of taking any melody from the most familiar to the most open and building an exciting and coherent improvisation upon it. Isn't that what jazz is all about?
Harmonic Disorder - amazon.com

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