Thursday, September 24, 2020

Matthew Shipp - The Unidentifiable (ESP-Disk, 2020)

Pianist Matthew Shipp convened his trio mates Newman Taylor Baker on drums and Michael Bisio on bass at Park West Studio in Brooklyn in October of 2019. The group has worked for several years and the camaraderie that they have built up allow them the ability to take the music into unexpected and exciting directions each time that they meet. This album opens with "Blue Transport System" featuring spare piano descending spaciously into the cymbals and bass, with Baker's brushes clearing room for more urgent piano and beautiful sounding bass, creating a chamber/parlor like feel with shimmering and billowing music accented with bass tones and climbing piano notes, rising and falling to the conclusion. Insistent heavy piano chords are at the forefront of "Phantom Journey" alongside tight bass and drumsticks and the play of light and shade is key, with Shipp brandishing heavy bass chords and levying them against urgent fast bursts of sound and crisp drumming, developing a fascinating trajectory. "Dark Sea Negative Charge" has a wide open field for bass and piano with the slightest percussion, sounding quite handsome, as the carefully chosen notes shimmer like gems placed on velvet. Shipp takes "The Dimension" as solo piano, weaving a complex and convex puzzle, using a brisk but not impatient pace with many shades and hues, framed briefly with heavy bass chords. "Loop" features the trio in a collective improvisation that sounds very free, adding ideas playing off of one another, with fast bursts of information all coming together. Bass and drums meet with full blooded piano on "The Unidentifiable" creating near post bop swing, bright and potent beams of light, ripples of cascading piano, thick bulbous bass and weighty drums. A true centerpiece, this ties everything together in grand fashion. Bisio is featured with a well played bass solo, rich and sonorous in sound, then the piano and drums crash back in dramatically leading to an excellent conclusion. "Regeneration" keeps things moving with choppy bass, drums and strong almost brittle piano chords are added, creating an excellent counter rhythm alongside the drums. The finale, "New Heaven and New Earth" builds bowed bass and knotty piano falling in together. A galloping trio improvisation unfolds urgently from the whole group as the drama develops. The lengthy track builds an impressive narrative from all three musicians as they go for broke to the finish, creating a wonderful closing statement for this excellent album. The Unidentifiable -

Send comments to Tim.