MATTHEW SHIPP — Zero (review)

MATTHEW SHIPP — Zero album cover Album · 2018 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Despite the many albums he has put out, its hard to think of one bum one from Matthew Shipp. The consistent quality is always there, but if you really want to hear what Shipp is capable of, you’ll want to go with his solo works. The group albums are usually good, and often great, but the music on these albums tends to be very busy and full, and Matthew’s voice has to compete against saxophones, drums and all manner of noise. On his solo albums, the runway is all clear and all we hear is how much space Shipp can fill up all by himself. Matthew comes from that old school two-fisted piano tradition of Art Tatum in which the piano is made to replicate an orchestra complete with many intertwining lines and big thick harmonies. To that foundation Shipp adds Cecil Taylor influenced atonal excursions as well as elements from the world of classical music ranging from Chopin to Charles Ives and Stockhausen.

“Zero” is Shipp’s latest solo recoding and finds him sitting in a studio and knocking out eleven improvisations that are presented on the CD without much break. Each track tends to be in a distinctly different style, so if you are listening closely, you will probably notice when a new track is on. If this CD is just playing in the background, then it will probably sound like one long piece. Matthew’s playing is somewhat different on “Zero“, more relaxed and less harsh or busy. Many passages contain material that may sound familiar, including elements of bop, blues and classical music. The end result is that this is a CD where its easier to follow how brilliant Matthew is at working ideas inside and out in mind boggling variations and just taking a strain of logic about as far as it can go. Instead of bombarding us with just how much he can be, Matthew instead gives us something to latch on to, something that takes our minds on a ride.
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