Matthew Shipp has gone on to distinguish himself as a true original, incorporating not only the history of jazz piano but also the hypnotic repetition of minimalism. He is an "idea man", but not merely a musical intellectual – his music offers challenges aplenty while demonstrating wit and passion.
This double disc of live recordings features a trio date at The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY and a program of solo piano recital at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. On disc one, Shipp is joined by Whit Dickey on drums and bassist Michael Bisio, who is given generous solo space on several tracks. The New Fact begins with a rumbling modal vamp reminiscent of McCoy Tyner, which develops into a nice display of improvisational virtuosity, synthesizing the harmonic language of Tyner and Taylor, as well as Herbie Hancock. The fleet-fingered and pitch-perfect Bisio ends the piece with an absolutely jaw-dropping solo.
Circular Temple, the longest piece in the program, starts with some pensive musing from Shipp and a nice bit of arco bass from Bisio. Eventually, Shipp fastens onto another hypnotic vamp and accelerates into an impressive extended solo which demonstrates total mastery of his instrument. This piece slides right into the one standard here, Billy Strayhorn’s Take the A Train – in Shipp’s hands, a crashing, percussive tour de force. Once again, the pianist does not adopt the standard practice of abandoning the melody after 30 seconds or so – instead, he dissects, examines and reconstructs the melody to excellent effect.