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Monday, April 8, 2024

Matthew Shipp Trio - New Concepts In Piano Trio Jazz (ESP-Disk’, 2024)

By Lee Rice Epstein

Almost certainly, every review of this album will gesture in some way towards the title, it’s both too easily referenced and too validly applicable. I spent the past several weeks primarily listening Matthew Shipp Trio music, almost exclusively featuring the current lineup of Shipp, bassist Michael Bisio, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker. New Concepts In Piano Trio Jazz is, arguably, the finest thus far of the seven albums they’ve recorded together. This has been a gradual journey, where each album builds upon the developing relationship between the three players, and the depth and richness of their improvisation expands noticeably.

The first few albums together were all fantastic, and 2020's The Unidentifiable took the trio to the stratosphere. Something around fall of 2019, when that session was recorded, just brought everyone to a stellar level, like a change in the atmosphere, a deeper understanding of the unified self. Coming off their session with Nicole Mitchell (documented in Singularity Codex, Clifford Allen's masterful book on Shipp's RogueArt catalog), the trio seemed to find a heightened awareness of each other in space and sound. The following album, World Construct, built on this evolving state of being. Now, on their newest album, the group presents what seems like the fiercest, most driving statement to date.

In eight improvisations, spread across 45 minutes, Shipp, Bisio, and Baker play with a distinctly modernist approach. There’s always been something of a Stein-ian or Woolf-ish aspect to Shipp’s music, and this is more apparent than ever on New Concepts In Piano Trio Jazz, where signs and symbols (in the form of phrases and clusters) are restated, sometimes refracted, and often echoed through Bisio’s bass and Baker’s percussive drumming. It’s a bold and emotionally riveting piano trio album, surely one of the finest you’ll hear all year.

Available on Bandcamp

You can also now purchase Matthew Shipp's entire ESP-Disk' catalog for a discounted rate here.