Matthew Shipp has often stated recently that his next album will be his last one before he finally puts an end to his torrid pace of recording (and composing while recording), and he’s hinted the same with his latest ‘next’ album, the solo piano disc I’ve Been To Many Places (due out September 9, 2014 from Thirsty Ear Records). That shouldn’t be nearly as important to anyone listening to his work as the effort he puts into them, because every album he’s made of late certainly feels like the product of a serious artist making his final, consequential, emotionally invested statement.
To be sure, the title track premiered in the stream above is the mark of a sonic painter who is not about to run out of ideas.
This first impression of this latest ‘last’ album is an improvisational delicate, lyrical dance that sets the tone for the whole album. In a lot of ways, it’s an apt introduction to the man himself; he has a firm sense of how to begin and then lets intuition take over as the melody mutates and changes shape on its own. It takes on a wandering course that’s never forced, and Shipp’s style is informed as much — if not more — from Debussey impressionism as it is jazz.
“I’ve Been To Many Places” might be a song that was formulated as it was taped, but a performance that is so naturally devised doesn’t just happen. It’s the consummation of many years of study, practice, talent and a wide-open mind that has taken Matthew Shipp to many places.