Friday, October 18, 2013

Matthew Shipp - Piano Sutras (Thirsty Ear, 2013)

(Today is my 3,000th post, thank you to everyone who reads this blog.) Pianist Matthew Shipp pulls no punches in either his words or his music. He makes another definitive statement on this album, the latest in a series of solo LP’s that have covered a wide range of ground from jazz tunes and standards to free improvisation. Sutras are pithy collections of wisdom, and Shipp adapts the format work for music very well, developing short improvisations ranging from one to five minutes. It is quite a work of restraint, instead of trying to cram in as many notes as possible, Shipp takes a pithy approach, allowing the notes and chords of the piano to hang in space and time in stark relief against the silence. 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. Short teases of “Giant Steps” and “Nefertiti” demonstrate his ties to the jazz tradition, as he weaves glimpses of the melody like a sleight of hand artist performing magic and illusion. Shipp plays the depth and breadth of the piano building structural foundations out of notes and chords. Most of the pieces on this album are subtle, and the listener is given a fleeting glimpse of the music before it drifts away on the wind. The performances here are quite short and to the point, and the album itself is quite economical. It is very interesting to watch Shipp's music continually develop, he is never willing to sit still and his individual style is that of one who is in control of the entire piano and of his muse, allowing him free reign to let his musical spirit free, moving forward at all times. Piano Sutras -

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