Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Free Zen Society (Thirsty Ear, 2007) **½
You must give Matthew Shipp credit for his musical endeavours and restless search for new idioms of expression. Here, with The Free Zen Society, he uses the gentle and melodic piano-playing of albums like "Pastoral Composure", assisted by Zeena Parkins on harp and William Parker on bass. The music was then apparently forgotten, then found again, and re-edited by Thirsty Ear producer Peter Gordon, adding other sounds and synthesizer into the mix. The overall effect is very pleasing to the ear, yet not entertaining in the sense that it keeps your attention going. To add the name of "zen" to the title is an easy trick to camouflage emptiness of vision with a spiritual cover, rather than the opposite as it should be. The album has its nice moments, and fans of old-time Klaus Schultze may find it interesting.
Based on what I've seen him play at the Festival de jazz de Montréal, I think we should expect more challenging material from Matthew Shipp.
But then, he was accompanying Joelle Léandre that evening, so...
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