Saturday, February 06, 2010

Matthew Shipp - 4D (Thirsty Ear, 2010)

This is a solo piano recording from Shipp, recorded in a spontaneous setting before a very small audience. The performances here are quite short and to the point, only in a few cases five minutes or more in length, and the album itself is quite economical. There is also some very delicate playing - not ornamental, but elegant and probing, and many of the songs on the album have a haiku-like brevity. Shipp is fascinating in that he is developing his own conception of piano improvisation, grounded in the jazz piano firmament, but branching out in search of new ideas and methods. He uses the entire piano, especially the bass notes that he drops like ominous depth charges amidst the ever changing music. Shipp builds a deeply percussive sound, with a strong two handed attack, striking rumbling echoes of bass notes that reverberate like waves crashing up against the shore. Strong bass comping with sprinkles of higher notes make for an interesting juxtaposition. Listening to him caress the melody of an old standard like "Greensleves" or the gospel song "What a Friend We have in Jesus is fascinating too. It is very interesting to watch Shipp's music evolve over time, he is developing a very unique and individual style that hints at the piano masters of the past while facing forward at all times. 4D -

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