Matthew Shipp

Gravitational Systems

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This is pianist Matthew Shipp's fifth recording for hatOLOGY and its affiliated hat ART labels, and each disk has displayed a slightly different side to Shipp's way of playing. For sheer beauty and creative intensity, this one may be his best yet, which, considering the uniformly high level of his performances, is a mighty complement. As with most of his outings, virtually all the "compositions" are freely improvised, the exceptions being a startling version of "Greensleeves" that starts traditionally and slowly implodes, and John Coltrane's "Naima," which is barely recognizable in Shipp's hands. Shipp is joined throughout by long-time collaborator, violinist Mat Maneri, whose perky and celebratory virtuosic runs are a perfect foil to the pianist's dense, sometimes morose underpinnings. Maneri bounces deliciously off Shipp and the pianist responds orchestrally. A treat.

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