Matthew Shipp — Harmony and Abyss
(Thirsty Ear THI57152.2, 2004, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2005-03-01Pianist Mathew Shipp is still gradually pushing himself into the use of electronic instruments in his jazz endeavors. By embracing dance and hip hop rhythms he has become one of the latest acoustic pianists to branch out electronically until he had become satisfied that he had something substantial to say. Harmony and Abyss is the man’s seventh CD in five years and it finds him in evaluation and refinement mode. Flam has now become an essential element to his recordings adding much flavor to the jazz sound map besides essential rhythms. William Parker has been Shipp’s co-pilot as his upright bass provides a compass to steer by as on “Galaxy 105.” Pieces such as “3 in 1” show a balance to acoustic piano grounded tracks supported by Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver. “String Theory” is a key experimental track with Shipp’s distant watery piano entering the musical foreground with electronic smears and cuts encircling the backwards looping melody line. “Invisible Light” is one of the few free moments on the disk as Shipp and Parker walk an estimable fine line between conversation and telepathy. Alternately, “Amino Acid” relies on a samba rhythmic thrust to drive a penetrating theme. Closing out the recording is an electronic ballad that wallows in a morass of synthesizer despair. Taken as a whole Shipp has come to a crossroads where he has found a method on each path that works entirely for himself.
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more