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Matthew Shipp – ‘New Concepts in Piano Trio Jazz’

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    Posted: 08 Apr 2024 at 7:25am
Matthew Shipp – New Concepts in Piano Trio Jazz

(ESP-Disk ESP5085 . Album review by Tony Dudley-Evans)MATTHEW SHIPP - New Concepts in Piano Trio Jazz cover

In the accompanying notes to the CD, Matthew Shipp makes the claim that this album is ‘one of the greatest trio albums’.  Is he justified? I think he is, certainly in the area of jazz piano trios: this is a really fine album of piano trio music that stands comparison with the best.  

There are various aspects that contribute to the success of the album.  One is that the trio that has Michael Bisio on double bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums has been together for five years, working together and recording regularly.  The result is that it is a truly integrated trio whose playing is totally coherent; this is not a trio dominated by its leader, but an ensemble of equals who build on interplay between the three members.

This in turn leads to another key aspect of the trio’s music:  it is based on compositions that are worked on and developed, but, as Shipp also states in the notes, the music could be heard as either through composed or totally spontaneously improvised.  In fact, it moves seamlessly between the two, and certainly avoids the cliches of both straightahead and free jazz.

These aspects are apparent in Primal Poem, the first of eight tracks, it is a nicely integrated track with an initial  gentle meditative theme.  They are also there in the appropriately named Coherent System, a longer track that moves between various moods, and features excellent interplay between the members of the trio.     


Various tracks begin with an individual instrument; for example Sea Song opens with Taylor Baker on brushes which creates an air of mystery that is maintained throughout the track.   The Function starts with a walking bass line that continues throughout the track; Shipp comes in initially with rather jagged lines on the piano, and the interplay that develops features a kind of opposition between the instruments that comes as a contrast to the integration of the tracks described above. This approach also works well.

This contrast is also there on Non Circle; this opens with the drums, and Shipp develops rolling lines over a staccato rhythm from the drums.  Tone IQ starts with single notes on the piano to which the drums and bass respond, and this creates a rather different mood from other tracks. Brain System features Bisio on bowed bass leading the way with the piano playing more of a supportive role.  Brain Work  is a solo piano feature.

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that this is an album of great beauty that is state of the art in terms of the possibilities of the jazz piano trio. 

LINK : Bandcamp / Release date 5 April 2024

from https://londonjazznews.com

Edited by snobb - 08 Apr 2024 at 7:25am
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