Matthew Shipp - Nu Bop
Thirsty Ear Records
Shipp in Paper Mag
With the talented pianist Matthew Shipp, you never know
what to expect. His career has been so all-encompassing
that I don't know where to begin. His last outing "New
Orbit" was quiet, stark, and minimal, with occasional
moments of insanity. His tour for that record had everyone
trying to figure out what he was up to. From wild assaults
of space by Shipp and bassist William Parker, to moments
of unique quietness, Shipp is an extreme experimentalist.
Through his range of live and studio performances and unswerving
individual development, Shipp has come to be regarded as
a prolific and respected voice in creative music. He has
paid his dues to the past, but now seems to be creating
a new vocabulary for others to build on. He is grabbing
our hands and saying "Let's go!"
Born in the 1960's and raised in Wilmington, Delaware,
Matthew Shipp grew up listening to 1950's jazz recordings
and Jimi Hendrix alike. Putting on "Nu Bop" for
the first time may be a shock. Is this a Chemical Brothers
remix? What is Shipp doing?
Shipp has left jazz behind and entered a new place all his
own. The presence of Guillermo E. Brown on percussion is
a major factor on this record, helping Shipp to explore
new ground. It's like taking LSD as a teenager; drastically
changing one's world view. Chris Flam's contributions on
synths and as a programmer are integral to the overall production
as well. Flam is the wild card in the deck. He is the boxer
punching at infinite space. "Nu Bop" is opening
up the jazz world to DJ culture and making interesting bridges
that needed to be crossed.
Shipp once said: "I am a product of a certain tradition.
Obviously so. I come out of a 1960s avant garde jazz tradition.
That whole spectrum of McCoy Tyner, Cecil Taylor, Andrew
Hill, Paul Blake..." We notice this link to the
past more on previous records. On "Nu Bop" Shipp
moves on to terrain yet unexplored. "Nu Bop" resists
categories. This is the music that makes Jason Pierce of
Spiritualized cry and bow down. Shipp lets all the old walls
crumble. There are pieces and fragments of an old world.
There are broken bones and lingering chromosomes. Shipp
emerges from the end of a century as a wrecker and a creator.
His music screams: "No walls!"
Aware of the contributions of artists like Ghostface Killah,
Shipp says: "Any aspect of hip hop is closer to
the jazz spirit than some of the conservative notions of
people like Winston Marsalis. Max Roach said he understood
where Hip hop was coming from. Hip hop is here to stay.
DJ culture is very valid." Shame on you Winston
for your limited horizons. I am sending all my albums back
to the factory. "Nu Bop" may be this era's version
of "Rockit." We love every minute of it.
-- Alexander Laurence