Sunday, July 12, 2009

Appreciations from Matthew Shipp.

I first met Mr. Shipp when he was in music school in the 1980's and I knew then he's a man you don't meet every day. I have never had any reason to believe otherwise. Somewhere, the spirit of my honorary uncle, Frank Wright, looks down from on high and knows that this is good.


My basic concept is a melodic concept.That is a hard thing to define but I always go for a sequence of notes that I feel massage the brain in a good and pleasing way.I don’t want to be melodic in an affected ecm post-jarrett type of way.We don’t need any of that. It's bad enough having Jarrett playing that way let alone anyone else trying to go somewhere else with it. Actually, Bobo Stenson has figured out somewhere great to go with that .

My basic concept of the piano is as a cosmos. I control the space and time of the projectile concrete music object, which is the piano as played by me. it has nothing to do with jazz, even though I am a jazz musician and that is the language I use to paint my pictures. Rather my brain and the piano are one. If you scanned my brain and if the notes I played could be scanned the diagrams would be one. Like Sun Ra, I am a universal musician. I transcend their stupid fucking jazz.

Composition has everything to do with what I do meaning that my playing has way more rigor than a lot of people out here who are supposedly writing compositions. It is way more developed and has way more structural integrity than most of these so called composers even though there is such a heavy improv element to what I do. I defy anyone to say that what I do is not extremely sophisticated. Sonic design is evident in every note and choice I make on my instrument. This improv vs composition talk just needs to fucking stop.

A trio allows me to wear the clothes of a jazz pianist while what I do, syntax and otherwise, is completely another thing. But I understand the clothing of a so called jazz pianist and know how to effect that perception. It's fun.

The specific role of a trio, I don’t know,to have fun.I need to like the people I play with and really want to create something with them based on mutual respect.

My muses are so many and varied. Ive known some weird people in my life and had a very weird education. One of my most important influences was a philosopher and composer in my hometown, Wilmington Delaware, an Afro American named Sunyata, which is actually a Sanskrit word meaning emptiness. Three images he put in my mind as a teenager.

First, he talked a lot about his tai chi teacher and he use to always say his master would rather practice tai chi than eat. That idea was in my mind in the hours and hours of practicing and I always concentrated on focusing chi on the piano.

Second, he talked about an Indian musican whose music was so powerful that when he sang candles would light. I have no idea if that is true but the image was always in my mind.

Third, he always told me that Monk was the model in that he did not give a fuck what all these stupid mother fuckers out here thought. And he instilled in me that I had real originality and a real developed point of view and there would be a lot of stupid mother fuckers in jazz that would not get me. But keep moving forward like they don’t exist because the power of what you do will annihilate them.

In the collaborations I've done over the years, lets just say its fun to see how my piano playing fits into different contexts.There is really nothing else other than that. And also even though I have a completely developed style and a completely developed music that still does not mean that there is still not a lot to learn and everyone has something you can learn. So collaborations are fun and stretch your mind. Of course, at this point I am just interested in doing my own thing. Pianistic considerations don’t exist.It is more ambient considerations, what works in this context

I don’t want to play with anyone else except for the select group of people I play with. I just want to do my own music. I especially don’t want to play with any jazz people, other than the ones im playing with now, especially as a side man. I hear no one in the world with as developed and distinct voice as I have on my instrument for this period in the music.

So why would I play as a sideman for someone else whose music is not as important to this period and jazz going forward in the future as what I'm doing? I mean, who would I play with Wayne Shorter? Yeah, right, give me a break. You have one of those bags to throw up in.

Mr. Shipp will be at the Outpost on August 8th and his trio recording, Harmonic Disorder,
refuses to leave my old CD player.

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