The 12 tracks that make up One, Matthew Shipp's first solo piano outing since 2002's Songs on the Splasc(h) label, amount to a new kind of recital for the pianist. Two of his major influences on the instrument, Cecil Taylor and Mal Waldron, make their traces heard in terms of Shipp's architecture, but never do they become dominant. There is a kind of economy of scale that goes into these pieces that's refreshing for any solo piano outing. For starters, there are the elegant middle- and lower-middle-register chord voicings that make up the lion's share of "Arc," the opener. Shipp puts down a series of chords following in scale, and then extrapolates on them, shading their colors more sharp or more flat, a little bit at a time, never trying to arrive at a destination until one speaks out loudly enough for more detail. On "Patmos," one can hear the unhurried projection of scale in the single-note flourishes that stack up, allowing one set of tones to bleed into another, asserting not so much projection as a platform from which to hear what comes next and to allow that songlike voice to rise to the surface. "Gamma Ray" invokes both Thelonious Monk and Taylor in its jagged, rhythmic dexterity. The play of melody works against the grain here in the beginning, but it does make itself known before the pianist's own sense of space between chromatic statements becomes dominant. But Shipp is very keen on balance in these pieces, too; there is the constant rise of tension and its gradual release once a path of inquiry is found and decided upon. The drift in "Zero" is charted so that one of Shipp's most beautiful and realized melodies comes to the fore -- along with graceful melodic and harmonic articulations -- and stays there for the entire piece. One is a fully realized and poetic work by a mature pianist who should finally begin getting his due, not only as an improviser and a visionary but as a technician as well.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek