Perambulating the Bounds

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Go see Matthew Shipp Friday

Nashville’s biggest jazz concert since McCoy Tyner is coming up this Friday: Matthew Shipp at the Primitive Baptist Church, 4602 Indiana Avenue in Sylvan Park, scheduled to start at 8:00. Also on the bill are Lambchop, playing a very rare Nashville show, and Hands Off Cuba. The fact Lambchop is doing this show gives you some idea about Shipp’s standing. He is one of the most significant jazz pianists in the world today. I think people would probably call him a free jazz player, although it’s hard to know what that means. Lambchop’s website refers to him as an avant-garde pianist. He is a member of saxophonist David Ware’s quartet, and has been one of the primary people involved with the Thirsty Ear Blue Series experiments that cross Free Jazz and electronica (involving people like DJ Spooky). And he has recorded with Yo La Tengo and the Yo Las are very close with Lambchop, so you can some of the connections in bringing Shipp and Lambchop together.

Shipp has a new solo album out on Thirsty Ear and he’s been doing concerts around the country “in support” of it, if you can use such a heavy industry term in his case. This concert came about because John Rogers, former Nashville musician and current New York resident, writer, etc. got a ball rolling and Chris Davis made it happen.

Anyway, to get back to Shipp. (Matthew's website) I know him best from a tremendous album, duets with bassist William Parker called DNA. His playing has a classicism like Cecil Taylor with the ferocity turned down a bit. By that I mean the music works with architectural structures that build up in steps and combinations rather than a purely adrenalin-oriented arc. Shipp plays very clear lines, and in keeping with the ideas on DNA seems to work from small groups of material, a kind of coding similar to the way classical composers grow music out of cells of tones. You also hear bits of new textures emerge from the whole the way musical quotations float into the proceedings in a Charles Ives. The talk of classical forms shouldn’t throw anyone off though – this is passionate music, but Shipp builds up to climaxes rather than dumping them on you. And you don’t mistake the music’s grounding in the harmonic progressions and rhythms of jazz.

This is a chance to see a great musician in his prime at very close quarters. Not to be missed.

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