I’ve Been to Many Places
Matthew Shipp, piano
Thirsty Ear Blue Series CD
Pianist Matthew Shipp has recorded voluminously. Even with such a substantial discography, on his latest recording for Thirsty Ear, I’ve Been to Many Places, he shows himself still capable of sharing surprises. It isn’t in terms of wholesale changes of style or new technical innovations, but rather in matters of emphasis. Strongly, almost obstinately, reiterated harmonies abound. There are elaborate deconstructions of standards such as “Summertime” and “Tenderly,” and exquisitely wrought voicings are found on “Naima” and “Where is the Love?”. These are tunes that Shipp has recorded previously, usually in ensemble settings; the care the pianist takes to delineate these new renditions from previous incarnations is noteworthy.
There are also several originals included in the set. “Waltz” has a breathless charm. “Brain Stem Grammar” supplies an appealingly swinging angularity. “Cosmic Wave” employs weighty sonorities and spacious verticals to stirring effect. “Life Cycle” displays a neoclassical grandeur, replete with passages in octaves and portentous bass lines. And “Blue Astral Bodies” balances Shipp’s interest in traditional elements of jazz grammar with his more outward bound excursions. I’ve Been to Many Places serves as an excellent introduction to this multifaceted artist. It will also be prized by those already familiar with the pianist’s work as an addition to his catalogue that points to new directions in his playing. It is exciting to contemplate where Shipp may go next: one hopes and expects that he will continue to keep us guessing.