Friday, May 30, 2014

Matthew Shipp Trio - Root of Things (Relative Pitch, 2014)

Over his career on the jazz scene, Matthew Shipp has patiently developed a unique manner of trio performance, especially in the company of like-minded musicians like bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey. The opening title track “The Root of things” leads things off with cascades of notes from Shipp building in patiently. They ramp in a powerful but lyrical fashion that sets the stage for the remainder of the album. Thick, elastic bass propels “Jazz It” with percussive chords orbiting around it. Shipp’s trademark low-end bass stomps are present but give way to a surprisingly swinging trio improvisation. They move thing back into a faster pace, but keep the accessible nature that wouldn’t feel out of place in a mainstream jazz club. “Code J” begins as a ballad, as solo piano moves forward, using the bass and drums as scaffolding to move into angular and more abstract territory. “Path” is a feature for Michael Bisio, whose low bowed introduction clears the way for Shipp’s piano which builds in progressively stronger and louder making for a dark and haunting performance. Whit Dickey’s feature comes next, opening “Pulse Code” with a strong drum solo and Shipp responds with scattered shotgun blast of notes rippling and fracturing in every direction. Finally, “Solid Circuit” shows Shipp using the entire keyboard as his canvas in a thoughtful and unhurried manner with bass and drums entering later, developing a mainstream piano trio sound, before lifting off, accelerating into hyper-space to the conclusion. I hope that this is the album that pushes Matthew Shipp and his colleagues into mainstream success. Like Jaki Byard before him, he has the whole history, past and present and is leading the way into the future. Root Of Things -

Send comments to Tim.