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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

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