Matthew Shipp Trio: World Construct

In a world awash with piano trios, Shipp's group, while not without precedent, takes the less predictable if intellectually demanding path

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Musicians who are still dedicated to exploring what jazz might be, as opposed to reiterating long-established values and understandings of what the music consists of, seem pretty thin on the ground these days. Thus the understanding of the piano, bass and drums trio can easily become an exemplar of the tried-and-trusted.

This case is different, and all three musicians sound committed to fashioning something else that by turns is less predictable and thus, to use a loaded term in these culturally superficial times, more cerebral, in the sense that both the ear and the mind have to be focused in order to pick up on the music’s nuances.

A title like Jazz Posture might thus come with a side order of irony, for there is little about the piece that sounds worked out in advance or polished to within an inch of its life. The spontaneity quota is high, the lack of surface sheen in a sense forces the ear to go deeper, and the rewards for so doing are ample in terms of the trio’s heated interplay and rhythmic displacement, and whilst the overall result is not without precedents, there’s still an invigorating freshness about the music.

The arguably low-key yet kinetic energy of the title track, emphasised in a way by Taylor Baker’s deft use of brushes has to be (positively) dealt with on its own terms, and the effort it takes to do so is amply rewarded. The trio is deftly accomplished in the use of space and tempering the rhetorical, while the demands of the passing moments are met with fast, accomodating responses.

In short, the overall proceedings occupy one of the less inhabited spaces in the contemporary spectrum, and are all the more worthwhile for it.

Discography
Tangible; Sustained Construct; Spine; Jazz Posture; Beyond Understanding; Talk Power; Abandoned; A Mysterious State; Stop The World; Sly Glance; World Construct (58.12)
Shipp (p); Michael Bisio (b); Newman Taylor Baker (d). Park West Studios, Brooklyn, New York, 15 April 2021.
ESP 5059CD