Sunday, May 31, 2020

Matthew Shipp - The Piano Equation (Tao Forms, 2020)

Over the course of his career, Matthew Shipp has built a collection of solo albums to rival any pianist of the age. His most recent album introduces the Tao Forms label, founded by his longtime colleague Whit Dickey. The title track "The Piano Equation" opens the album with mysterious and spare droplets from the keyboard balanced by dark, resonating chords that are cut short quickly, allowing the crystalline higher notes to shine. "Swing Note from Deep Space" follows with a disjointed Thelonious Monk like feeling, mixing strata of notes and chords, churning in a potent fashion. The dark rumbling visceral presence of bass notes and chords imbues "Vortex Factor" with a knotty and gnarled sensibility. This is mined for a unique and unearthly sound, creating and uneasy and anxious performance. "Clown Pulse" is laser focused and swinging, and despite the short length of the song, Shipp is patient in the music's development, creating a piece that is brief, melodic and memorable. Emerging from a sketch, "Radio Signals Equation" gradually fills in with the low end bass and carefully chosen notes played with great strength. Shipp uses repetition that becomes nearly hypnotic, adding more depth for a wide ranging performance concluding with complex coded piano. The concluding track "Cosmic Juice" gradually swells louder and faster with deep waves of dark tones, creating a lush and ripe setting with stark velvety chords. The music then evolves to bruised sounds and a blustery conclusion. This album worked very well, Shipp is in excellent form, and in complete control of his instrument. He has the complete history of jazz at his fingertips, and can allude to bop or free jazz, while maintaining his own unique sound and musical conception. The Piano Equation -

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