Matthew Shipp, Zero, ESP
For years pianist Shipp has gone his own unconventional way. Critics have shunted him into the avant garde piano category. That’s not where he belongs. He is the sole occupant of the Matthew Shipp category. The listener with open ears will understand that individuality is the core of Shipp’s approach. The title of his new solo album, Zero, may suggest metaphysical implications. My advice is, don’t worry about metaphysical implications. Simply listen to Shipp’s keyboard mastery and the wide range of emotions in his playing—and leave categories behind.
Shipp is a natural collaborator. His most frequent recording companions are musicians who share his comfort with free expression. There are few videos of him playing alone. The following Fifteen-minute recording is an exception that can serve as an introduction to his solo work. It was shot a few years ago at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It ends abruptly.
For parts 2 and 3 of that Shipp recital, go here.
As for the new Shipp album, Zero, the eleven tracks of the primary CD are beautifully recorded on a splendid piano. The second CD presents Shipp delivering “A Lecture on Nothingness.” He calls it “Zero,” as he does the album. Whether the talk is metaphysical depends on how you hear it.
Next time on Rifftides, recent listening in brief.