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Matthew Shipp: Nu Bop

Whether it’s through his hand-scrawled notes to music editors proclaiming his own greatness, or by issuing soon-self-ignored declarations about not recording any more albums, pianist Matthew Shipp knows how to generate press. Journalists also give him ink, however, because he is one of the most accessible and entertaining avant-jazzers out there, capable of tackling various genres-trad, free, chamber-and stamping the music as his offbeat own. Some might say that stamp occurs because Shipp’s heavy-handed style doesn’t allow him to play any differently than what he knows, whatever the music style; though maybe it’s that he brings the genres to his playing, rather than letting the genres dictate his style.

Shipp’s last “Blue Series” album-the sub-label he artistic directs for Thirsty Ear-was the beautiful, darkly meditative song-cycle New Orbit. On his last album with David S. Ware, this past fall’s Corridors & Parallels (AUM Fidelity), he played synthesizer for the first time on CD, completely changing the sound of the already highly distinctive quartet. On Nu Bop Shipp applies his acoustic-piano-playing hands to DJ culture, adding the production and programming of electronica artist Chris Flam along with his familiar rhythm partners, bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown; reedist Daniel Carter also appears on a few tracks. Nu Bop is a hit-and-miss affair, but one so filled with promise that the CD still succeeds as a whole even if some of its parts are weak.

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