Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Matthew Shipp Trio - Piano Song (Thirsty Ear, 2017)

Piano Song is a trio album with Michael Bisio on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums, and it may very well be pianist Matthew Shipp's last album, though he will continue to curate the Blue Series for Thirsty Ear Records. This is an excellent recording, where his unique percussive and dynamic style is on full display during "Cosmopolitan" and Shipp is excellently accompanied by Bisio's elastic and imaginative bass playing and Baker's open ended and thoughtful percussion. Both of these men take excellent solos on this selection, and it makes for a modern jazz powerhouse, accessible as the best mainstream jazz while as unfettered as the most vanguard avant-garde music. Soft and repetitive percussion becomes unnerving on "Blue Desert" as you get the sense of time running out and droplets of piano and subtle bass add to the atmospheric tension. You can imagine this performance accompanying a impressionistic noir film, where the dark wet streets are filled with a sense of dread. "Silence Of" develops a definite sense of space with gentle brushes and deft bass work offsetting Shipp's carefully chosen notes. The music is impressive in its restraint, making for something which is under control or within carefully chosen limits as it develops a cohesive narrative. There is a tight groove to "Flying Carpet" with thick bass and drums and explosive dark piano chords that ratchet up the tension and the dynamic structure of the music. "Scrambled Brain" has deep seated bass and cymbals setting the pace, intertwining together, and developing a tight and powerful groove. Shipp lays out completely and allows the other two musicians to create in real time, and allowing his accompanists to shine. He returns with a vengeance on the jaunty "Microwave" which mixes Monk with a march with exciting results. The trio improvises collectively in a very exciting fashion, and everyone is at the top of their game. The connective tissue of "Links" is a haunting solo piano excursion, where the notes seem to hang in space as if suspended there, and it exemplifies the nature of the music on this album, which creates thoughtful and mature sounds made by three musicians with great compassion and dignity, which is a generous gift in these uncertain times. Piano Song - amazon.com

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