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  • Matthew Shipp                
    piano lines FLAM is a relatively muted presence on synths and programming William Parker s presence on bass is alert guiding and complementary Shipp s exploration of repetition at times both mirrors the studio manipulations effected by DJ Spooky on Optometry s players and echoes Miles Davis s 70s groups and their live exploration of Teo Macero s studio cut and pastes However the overall impression is of an impassioned chamber jazz more conventional than some of the musics mapped out less self consciously in recent years by European musicians Equilibrium shares the same earnestness as DJ Spooky s Optometry Has Shipp listened to Nils Molvaer or Wibutee Erik Truffaz or Bugge Wesseltoft Rotoscope or Kirk de Giorgio Perhaps I m misinterpreting the intentions of the Blue Series but in the liner notes to Equilibrium he states We are continuing to move into the future exploring beat elements with modern jazz I d like to know what Mathew Shipp hears in or listens to in the worlds of dance musics I d also like to find out why he sticks with the acoustic piano in these contexts though he played a mean Fender Rhodes live with Spring Heel Jack in

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/64-bbc/bbc_03.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Matthew Shipp                
    Shipp Equilibrium features Shipp in league with his usual rhythm section bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver plus vibraphonist Khan Jamal and the subtle beats and tones of programmer Chris Flam As on Shipp s previous Blue Series albums the tunes here have an ambient allure even as the underlying musicianship possesses an edgy intensity What makes Equilibrium special is the wonderfully atmospheric combination of Shipp s most minimalist

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/63-billboard/billboard.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Matthew Shipp                
    sensual anchoring as well as shining Shipp has surrounded himself with a phalanx of talented musicians including Gerald Cleaver Chris Flam and Khan Jamal who share his vision of breaking the musical barriers and changing preconceived notions of both jazz and hip hop and the results are dazzling as well as beautiful Equilibrium is awash with waves of lovely piano and vibraphone tones that linger in mid air to be

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/59-groovy/groovy-stylie.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Nu Bop -- Matthew Shipp Quintet
    to serve as a backdrop for a canvas of organic compositions based on improvisational impulses For more than a decade Shipp has broken barriers and genre with his original style In Nu Bop he continues to challenge the limits and preconceptions of jazz with this explosive beats driven modern jazz recording Bassist William Parker takes on the unusual role as funk meister Reedman Daniel Carter turns in soaring performances that

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/57-nubop/nubop.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Matthew Shipp                
    and heads decisively towards the lower range of the keyboard His piano rumbles along beside William Parker s bass for long moments the two creating a percussive angular duet Whit Dickey s flat dry drumming complements the pair s work brilliantly but as with all Shipp Parker recordings the duo interaction is paramount Over the course of the piece s ten minute running time Shipp returns often to beautiful melodic figures but the overall tone is one of great abstraction and the music is often more violent than his later work In these early recordings it is easy to see how a listener might make the connection with Cecil Taylor s trio recordings particularly works from the 1980s which feature Parker on bass The Taylor comparison was natural early in Shipp s career Yet even after it ceased to be in any way applicable it dogged him for years It occasionally still shows up but for the most part Shipp s own notoriety forces all but the most obstinate critics to hear his music on its own merits Actually sitting down and listening to the two players today reveals obvious differences in their respective styles particularly as Shipp s music has evolved to its present remarkable levels Obviously without Taylor s pioneering work no one would have had any reference point for Shipp s aesthetic when he appeared And indeed he has cited Taylor as a strong formative influence At this point though there is relatively little which connects Shipp s music to Taylor s Where Taylor quite often still concentrates on percussive effects to the detriment of melody Shipp tends to focus more and more on the melody of a piece pulling it apart bit by bit until only the tiniest shreds remain then carefully reassembling it Shipp s compositions and performances are circular in nature there is always a clear progression from start to finish and back to the start again Taylor s pieces by contrast seem like one way journeys On occasion Taylor s compositions fail to achieve forward motion at all and give the impression of treading water More interestingly for all of Taylor s concern with creating percussive sounds on the keyboard hammering the keys with such force it seems like they ll fly off Shipp s music is much more rhythmic Taylor s pieces are often quite arrhythmic although he has worked with many of jazz s greatest drummers Sunny Murray Ronald Shannon Jackson Kenny Clarke Max Roach they often seem to be battling with him attempting to force him back into line Shipp on the other hand very much embraces rhythmic interplay This is particularly obvious in his recordings with the David S Ware Quartet and its drummers Whit Dickey and Guillermo Brown Even when there is no drummer present though as on Zo and DNA both duo albums with William Parker Thesis a duo with guitarist Joe Morris or Strata a record by Shipp s Horn Quartet trumpeter Roy Campbell saxophonist Daniel Carter and Parker on bass Shipp s playing often centers on rhythm A definite forward impetus is always present DNA in particular is an intensely rhythmic album with compositions like the title track and a throbbing version of When Johnny Comes Marching Home dragging the listener along like a commuter with his arm caught in a subway door This is where Shipp s other major influences Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell are most clearly evident Aside from the comparisons to Taylor the other baffling thing for Shipp is the persistent criticism that free jazz is somehow purely emotional and turbulent without the intellectual underpinning of bop and post bop styles I think this music is open to all kinds of misunderstandings he says charitably Even somebody like Albert Ayler if you really listen to his playing it s very well thought out and actually quite intellectual It s a complete system If you listen to him just playing off the horn and then you listen to other people doing it you realize that the reason he s an icon is because he really had a system There s a real intellect behind his improvising That s obviously the case with Cecil Taylor as well I mean if somebody has longevity as an artist it definitely means there s thought behind their work They re not getting up there just jacking off Look at me I ve got these deep feelings and I m expressing myself I mean maybe part of the appeal is that the player is wearing his feelings on his sleeve but that has to be translated into some kind of system or body of work that has some type of logic and therefore makes sense over a series of CDs I don t understand that free jazz as emotional versus intellectual music sentiment and I think it s a disservice to various practitioners of that art And also if you re going to point to what makes all of their music different the whole Apollonian versus Dionysian dichotomy there s an Apollonian element in each one that makes their Dionysian frenzies different So you know why Albert Ayler s body of work is different from Sun Ra s or Coltrane s Even if they are all dealing in that emotional pool or whatever there s still definitely some guiding intelligence behind all their work that allows it to continue to exist on CDs and sell because people are still interested in it and identify it as well because if it was all Dionysian it would just all sound the same I think that whole way of looking at jazz is tired and has absolutely nothing to do with someone like myself Surprisingly this misinterpretation of the music seems primarily confined to jazz critics Rock listeners according to Shipp grasp the music much more quickly in all its depth I think he says that the people that got into us it wasn t like they were just Oh wow free jazz noisy No it really spawned a whole new generation of really bright people who could really identify what they actually liked about the music So it wasn t just a matter of not liking certain types of rock bands cause they re too poppish so we re looking for something experimental The people that came to us can really identify the melodic aspects of what we do that they like and I ve seen a lot of cases where people came to us first and they gave themselves a real education in jazz history really quickly and they kind of grasped the whole thing And that s why when you look at Down Beat May 2000 issue I m one of the main features My picture is in the table of contents Or you took at Jazziz and William s on the cover The jazz world has begrudgingly even though they re condescending had to acknowledge that we ve really brought a lot of people into jazz and they re not idiots Because the people that tend to get into us and here he begins to laugh and I m really patting ourselves on the back here a lot of them tend to be brighter than the people who are just into jazz who are some stupid motherfuckers Shipp has little patience with the jazz press You can pretty much every year predict at least six of the covers Pat Metheny ll be on one Michael Brecker ll be on Wynton David Sanborn I mean it s a joke He continues I know for a fact that those magazines don t even sell albums I track five star reviews all around town and I ve seen five star lead review albums in Down Beat not sell one album in New York that month So what does that say I don t know who could possibly take those magazines seriously Even as he blasts many members of the jazz press though lampooning one relatively well known critic and author in particular who according to Shipp hates me like a truly passionate hatred But he s been pushed into writing about me because he s a complete mercenary as a writer he claims to see their side understanding for example why free jazz is labeled a 60s holdover while musicians still playing the bop changes of the 1950s are given a pass I think the logic in a critic s mind is that at least that music can be said to be functional Like if they re writing for a newspaper for a daily you tell people this is pleasant you could go out to a club take your date or whatever And our music since it s not functional in that sense they feel a license to dig and get lazy where some young player on Blue Note I mean what are they gonna say I don t even subscribe to the idea that everybody should be an innovator I mean if somebody likes to play like Bill Evans and they do it well then more power to them I don t want to hear it but maybe somebody does Some would find it surprising that for all his success in bringing free jazz to new audiences Shipp has never been seriously approached by any of the major record labels There s been word out that people have been paying attention to my career he says honchos from majors who have expressed admiration but as far as going past that no There s been word at certain points in my career that somebody was trying to push me on major labels and that they actually knew of me liked me and then I ve met people and there s been lip service paid to my body of work Is it because as with rock bands they want him to achieve a certain level of sales before scooping him up and trumpeting him as their latest discovery Shipp has his doubts I don t even know if it s a matter of getting further in my career Because the thing with Branford Marsalis and David Ware I mean I remember the concert in France where he Marsalis heard us and it was years before he got the job Creative Director of Columbia Jazz since resigned but he came backstage and his mouth was watering then And when he got in a position of power he wanted to shake things up there So it s always a question of somebody who has the will to shake things up and actually likes the music gets into a position of power to do it But I don t think it s a waiting thing I think they re too stupid to see that this period s going to make sense 20 years from now I think most of the people at major labels are too stupid to see it I also think that the whole major label jazz thing is crumbling anyway completely eroding It has no center no vision no life no nothing So l don t really wanna be there To me it doesn t really have any relevance The only thing that matters is that you will be in every bin in every little store but what does that matter if there s no vision or will to present you property to the public You can sell maybe a thousand more albums because there s 20 000 more shipped So you sell a thousand more albums in the short term or maybe you get a bigger cash advance But I m building my career at a very slow pace with a very organic logic and I m very happy to be doing it that way the way it s unfolding Over the past few years Shipp has released records through three primary sources His contract with Rollins 2 13 61 label yielded three albums 2 Z a duo with Art Ensemble of Chicago founder Roscoe Mitchell Flow Of X and Critical Mass He released several albums including By The Law Of Music The Multiplication Table Thesis Strata and Gravitational Systems through the Swiss label hat Art And most recently he has released DNA Pastoral Composure and New Orbit for the New York indie rock label Thirsty Ear Over the years of course other albums have emerged on labels like Silkheart No More Records Cadence Jazz and the famed German label FMP Free Music Productions which has released work by Cecil Taylor Peter Brotzmann and many other performers One of his most interesting albums originally released on Brinkmann Records but now reissued by hat Art is 1993s Prism Prism is a live trio set from the lower Manhattan performance space Roulette featuring the trio of Shipp Parker and Dickey Running roughly an hour it consists of two pieces titled in typical fashion Prism I and Prism II Beginning with a simple seesawing melody Prism I quickly explodes into an almost swinging mode Whit Dickey s ride cymbal and sidelong drum accents sending the trio careening forwards Shipp keeps the piece from being entirely overtaken by sheer forward momentum by continuing to break the melody into small jagged shards Parker and Dickey seem to be working on him though and influencing him and soon he is creating long streams of low end rumbles great washes of notes which engulf the listener and make it impossible to do anything else but focus on the music to hear where it s going to go next Prism II like the second half of John Coltrane s Meditations begins softly with Shipp playing solo He explores gently and carefully for a few moments finding his way When Dickey and Parker come in again about four minutes into the piece the momentum is again overwhelming and sudden Prism is not an album commonly cited as one of Shipp s career landmarks but it should be It deserves much more attention than it has received to date One advantage to working with multiple record labels has been that Shipp s experimentalism has been allowed to flower He changes the lineup of musicians and the instrumentation with virtually every album He returns naturally to core groups but never releases three piano trio records in a row for example The trio with Parker and Dickey appears on Circular Temple Prism Points Flow Of X and Critical Mass On Points Rob Brown plays alto saxophone and on Flow Of X and Critical Mass the trio is joined by violinist Mat Maneri Shipp also uses Maneri in his String Trio piano bass and violin on By The Law Of Music and duets with him on Gravitational Systems Zo and DNA are duos with Parker Sonic Explorations is a duo with Brown and Thesis is a duo with guitarist Joe Morris On The Multiplication Table Susie lbarra replaces Whit Dickey as drummer lbarra was at the time also drumming for the David S Ware Quartet On Pastoral Composure Shipp and Parker are joined by Roy Campbell on trumpet and Gerald Cleaver on drums Perhaps the most unique lineup though appears on 1998s Strata hat Art Shipp has long admired the work of the fully improvisational quartet Other Dimensions In Music A group featuring Roy Campbell William Parker saxophonist Daniel Carter and drummer Rashid Bakr ODIM has been together for nearly twenty years During that time they have recorded only three albums a self titled 1988 debut for Silkheart and two releases on Aum Fidelity I997s Now and 1999s Time Is Of The Essence The Essence Is Beyond Time a live recording which featured Shipp as a guest For Strata Shipp brought in all the members of Other Dimensions save Bakr and recorded a 14 part suite that s unlike any other jazz album and one of his most fascinating works The album is clearly intended to be of a piece as evidenced by the varying divisions of the ensemble on each track Not everyone plays at all times Some pieces are horn duos Parker has a bass solo Shipp has a piano solo Only on one or two occasions does the full quartet play together The piece takes an almost symmetrical form beginning with horn duos moving to solo bass then a section by the full quartet followed by a piano solo and another section played by all four musicians The middle four tracks are in order a saxophone piano duet horns and bass without Shipp a saxophone bass piano trio and a trumpet solo Then the pattern re emerges as the lineups of the first five sections are repeated only in reverse order The quartet as a whole reforms Shipp takes another piano solo the quartet plays again Parker takes a bass solo and Campbell and Carter the horn players take the ensemble and the piece out Each track is superb on its own and the suite as a whole is quite remarkable the absence of a primary rhythm instrument allows the lyrical potential of Shipp s cluster bomb melodies to expand quite radically There are many surprises on the disc Campbell and Carter playing together create delicate webs of sound Parker on the other hand uses his first solo to release tight knotted sonic booms far from his usual soulful rumble Strata is one of Shipp s favorite albums and one which shows quite clearly not only the depth of his musical concept but the room for experimentation contained within it Lately Shipp has talked seriously about retiring from the studio entirely He continues to record albums but promises this will peter out by 2001 I m trying to retire he says I would like to stay out of the studio forever I have one more album coming out on hat Art one more String Trio album coming out next year But I have more stuff out than alto saxophone and clarinet player Eric Dolphy had in his entire career

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/56-nyisnow/nyisnow.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Matthew Shipp                
    Coltrane and Ra New Orbit is a somber gothic affair bearing some similarity in tone to Shipp s early work eg Circular Temple but lacking the striking density and overt tension of his work from that period The general approach here is extroverted but deliberate Much of New Orbit consists of open space Shipp develops dark wispy themes with a structural focus Leo Smith soars along warm rich lines William Parker bows a foamy harmonic stream Harmonically speaking these themes tend to rely upon tonal centers and a general pattern of conflict and resolution When the quartet convenes in its entirety William Parker s thick pulse and Gerald Cleaver s insistent forward looking percussion drive the group s intensity to a higher level This interplay tends to accent Smith s vibrant trumpet work which bridges the gap between melodic simplicity and harmonic multiplicity Imagine sitting in an ancient stone church with high spires arched hallways and massive wooden doors hung on huge cast iron hinges The glass in the windows is almost liquid it s translucent but not transparent Patterns of blue and green move across the floor with the travel of the sun across the sky You can feel

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/52-allaboutjazz/allaboutjazz_1.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Matthew Shipp                
    piano and don t use standard chord changes Cecil and I generate our musical universe in completely opposing ways and have a radically I mean radically different rhythmic approach I haven t listened to his music for 20 years and I ve tried to block him out my mind When I first joined the David Ware band I was the pianist in a band of all Cecil Taylor alumni and was very sensitive to the comparison so much so that I made a conscious decision to make different musical choices But if people actually listen to what I play they d realise how different we really are The comparison is just too convenient and gets in the way Expansion Power Release rejoices in the sort of consonant harmony and regular pulse that would be alien to pure free jazz This muddies the stylistic water and stamps Shipp s personality firmly on the music to paraphrase the famous title of an Ornette Coleman record This Is My Music The work Shipp has recorded for Thirsty Ear includes the probing New Orbit with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and the highly engaging Pastorale Composure with Roy Campbell Much of the music in Pastorale Composure deals with standard swing rhythms and changes with Shipp s beautifully shaped solos recalling Bud Powell and Herbie Nichols The pianist has said that his decision to include Frere Jacques was purely accidental The tune turned up in the middle of a set with the David Ware group and here it s heard in a Tristano like conversation with itself The wit of Frere Jacques is offset by a brooding assault on Prelude To A Kiss that wipes away the layers of sentiment and finds something more powerful Even though recordings like Prism hatArt and Before The World FMP are now nearly ten years old there s already a restlessness and searching quality that reveals Shipp s desire to step outside what s expected of him Is this an acknowledgment that the anger and extremes of free jazz belonged to the tensions of an era which has now past Perhaps to play that music now would be a contrived attempt to recreate the urgency of that anger They re very loaded questions and probably someone s PhD thesis The 60s were a very turbulent time and people were dealing with new ways of perceiving freedom and stepping out of certain social structures A figure like Sun Ra was a complete and utter product of segregation in Alabama I can t get inside his mind and see how he viewed the world I m a product of integration and can t even pretend to know how it was for the guys who pioneered the music I don t really feel that I m fighting anything in society I m fighting personal restrictions that people are trying to put on me That s not to say that this music doesn t have an agenda but my major reasons for playing it

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/53-jazzreview/jazz_review.html (2016-02-12)
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  • Matthew Shipp                
    category as much as it strives to create its own Chamber free jazz Abstract blues suite Whatever you want to call it it works As on Pastoral Composure Shipp uses a quartet of piano bass drum and trumpet but to completely different effect This band is more ruminative gently deploying sound in an almost painterly way While often restrained the foursome can when called on work up the frenzy of an entire orchestra with tight controlled improvisations that recall both vintage Art Ensemble of Chicago and Duke Ellington while sounding like neither New Orbit opens and closes with a prayerful piano refrain a few instantly recognizable notes forming a motif that is subtly woven throughout the album These few searching yearning notes contain the echoes of the music the album explores from blues to classical to the spiritual and meditative work of John Coltrane On New Orbit trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith gracefully soars over Shipp s simple piano patterns conjuring up a gorgeous melody anchored by the rumbling rhythms of bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver The slow burning Syntax showcases Smith s stabbing bursts of lyricism while Orbit 2 is all Shipp a shimmering cluster of perfectly chosen

    Original URL path: http://www.matthewshipp.com/press/40-sonicnet/sonicnet.html (2016-02-12)
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