Friday, March 02, 2012

Matthew Shipp - Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear, 2012)

Pianist and composer Matthew Shipp has been on a fearsome role as of late, releasing supurb albums regularly as a leader and as a collaborator. He is both on this album; being the nominal leader of this trio while allowing for some fascinating bowed bass and drum excursions, that are both ominous and moving. Shipp plays the depth and breadth of the piano building architectural shapes out of notes and chords. The music uses different combinations of instruments - piano with bass or drums or both or neither. The title of the album is appropriate as they stretch and pull at the space and time in which they create their music. I love the way Shipp contrasts his percussive low note depth-charges with fast and supple flurries of notes. The low tones convey a sense of ominous dread while the higher register playing evokes hope at the end of the tunnel of despair and depression. Most of the pieces on this album are ephemeral, glimpsed like life scenes seen fleetingly from a car or train. The finale, "Elastic Eye" breaks the mold in an extraordinary fashion, bringing together all of the groups diverse strands in a lengthy tour de force that defines their power and grace. The combination of the intellectual and the emotional is seamless and creates a transcendent whole that goes beyond jazz to evoke a universe of distinctive musical possibility. Elastic Aspects -

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