Matthew Shipp, Spiderweb, Tao Forms ****

There are no short cuts. There are no clichés here. Free improvisation is the ultimate and there are few who can scale the summit as expertly as Matthew Shipp. Minutes spent with Shipp may be the most meaningful thing you can hope to do today if …

Published: 8 Oct 2021. Updated: 19 days.

There are no short cuts. There are no clichés here. Free improvisation is the ultimate and there are few who can scale the summit as expertly as Matthew Shipp. Minutes spent with Shipp may be the most meaningful thing you can hope to do today if you want to improve your listening chops. His method involves placing tonality in a blender but the knack is that he does not swerve away from melody as some hardcore improvisers in all validity do. He instead makes however distant ''the melodic'' sound as if it is present in the dashboard as he steers to a new location. Harnessing a chordal dimension that works from the middle of the chord often not from its root or rinsing the effect through over-saturated chromaticism which can be in lesser hands a coasting, on this track you can hear part of what he has been developing along these lines over many years on 'Spiderweb'. Shipp also uses his own internal rubato in the metrical sub-division of internal rhythms that he employs in the ''current'' of his sweep that amounts to a version of pulse. It's Ellingtonian at heart that is updating itself everytime he sits down to improvise and listening to 'Spiderweb' is the next best thing to being in a small club watching his hands and letting the sound wash all over you like the warmest, purest, most invigorating water this side of euphoria. Codebreaker is out in November

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Hiromi, Silver Lining Suite, Telarc ***

Do you switch off, legitimate enough question, when an artist you like a lot goes from jazz to wrap their sound in say a ''classical'' coating? Silver Lining Suite is not Hiromi's best album because the integration of the strings and the bravura …

Published: 8 Oct 2021. Updated: 19 days.

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Do you switch off, legitimate enough question, when an artist you like a lot goes from jazz to wrap their sound in say a ''classical'' coating? Silver Lining Suite is not Hiromi's best album because the integration of the strings and the bravura style of playing doesn't quite lock step. It's no disaster and eminently listenable to but seems more like an album full of exhibition pieces. You know that overwhelming feeling when you step into a classical hall and the technique is like a tsunami but that's it, you are stubbornly unmoved and yet of course certainly admiring. To be scrupulously fair to the strings on the record their elegant swoon on '11.49pm' is wonderful. Hiromi who opened the Tokyo Olympics participating in the first day ceremony displays dazzling virtuosity and lightness of touch on the tango-inspired 'Ribera del Duero,' named apparently for the pianist-composer-bandleader's favourite type of wine. Hiromi's rapport with violinist Tatsuo Nishie, spectacular on the piece, is strikingly easy to discern. 'Isolation' swings the most. If you need to have everything that Hiromi releases of course you must get this but careful what you wish for, dear superfan.

Otherwise if still tepid in the adoration curve so far begin with 2012's Move and check the remarkable version of yes once again '11.49pm' on it. And now you know just why Hiromi's artistry needs to be in every jazz-lover's life sooner or later. Sorry but she is just better with a trio of the magnitude of her peerless work with Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips. Stephen Graham