Half Notes: Matthew Shipp – 4D (2010)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Shipp is one of the currently reigning giants of whack jazz, so that’s a good-sized hole we proud avant garde types left on this site. My short mention of his latest is merely a down payment to rectify that gap. This latest release, by the way, once again puts Shipp behind his piano with no accompaniment, and the pianist explores twelve of his own tunes and four of other people’s. I like the sharp angles and the temper modulations in “The Crack In The Piano’s Egg’s” which doesn’t quite ape Monk, but would surely make him smile. You can often get a window into an artist’s mind in listening to how he interprets covers; in the case of “What Is This Thing Called Love,” Shipp shows off his rare ability to remain present in the melody while stepping completely outside of it. With most of the tracks falling around three minutes, Shipp makes concise statements that efficiently say a lot within their short running times. 4D could have only been pulled off by a completely mature artist comfortable enough in his own musical personality to deliver it with just one instrument and also through the pen of other composers. Shipp is without question one of those artists.

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