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4D by Matthew Shipp

Around 1993, I turned on KUSF, the San Francisco iconoclastic radio station located at the University of San Francisco, and found myself in the middle of an interview with pianist Matthew Shipp. They played his version of "Johnny Comes Marching Home," and I was hooked: I headed down to Bruno’s, a bar and restaurant on Mission Street programming inventive jazz at the time, and checked him out. Ever since then, I’ve been a fan of his challenging music.

While Matthew has innumerable CDs, his solo CDs are my favorite. 4D, his fifth solo effort, combines his radical reinterpretations of traditional tunes alongside his own dense, sometimes chaotic and dissonant, always challenging compositions. The closest pianist one might compare him with in style would be Cecil Taylor, yet Matthew's relationship with the piano is different.

Of the standards, "Frere Jacques," perhaps the most surprising choice, is my favorite reworking. The others are "Greensleeves," a tune John Coltrane also recorded; "Prelude to a Kiss," "What is This Thing Called Love," and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." The one thing connecting these tunes is that they all have wonderful histories behind them, as I discovered when I looked each of them up on Wikipedia.

Original tunes include "The Crack in the Piano’s Egg," which opens the CD, "Primal Harmonic," and "Dark Matter." All reflect Matthew’s penchant for sitting down at the piano and taking off for another dimension, another universe, an alternate reality. Let him be your guide as you voyage forth into the cosmos as you listen to this unforgettable and singular CD.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Matthew Shipp
  • CD Title: 4D
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Thirsty Ear
  • Rating: Five Stars
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