Review and five drawings: Matthew Shipp solo at Cafe Oto

Matthew Shipp at Cafe Oto's sonorous grand piano.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew Shipp
(solo concert at Cafe Oto, 21 February 2014, night 3 of 3-day residency. Drawings and review by Geoff Winston)


Matthew Shipp saved his remarkable solo recital for the last of his three nights at Cafe Oto. Whereas on the preceding two evenings he had worked with some of his favourite musicians - as he gracefully acknowledged - the Friday night  audience could succumb to the spell of a keyboard master out on his own.

Above and below the line. Matthew Shipp at Cafe Oto.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Shipp plays by his own rules. In two sets of concentrated sparring with Cafe Oto's Yamaha piano he plumbed its deep resonances with the physical force of a Brubeck or Peterson, delivering maximum power with the loud pedal and, by way of contrast, hopped, skipped and skirted around and beyond the repertoire, deftly polishing the keys with cycles of rolling runs and obliquely precise chords.

Matthew Shipp at the keyboard at Cafe Oto.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Shipp's lush amalgam of invention and technical discipline revealed a haunting, personal lyricism. Impulsive and compulsive, he mixed dark themes, laden with thunderous foreboding, with brightly accented figures, each turn revealing the virtuosic evolution of his patterns of thought and expression. The apparent abandon with which he could throw his hands at the keyboard was a smokescreen for his outstandingly imaginative and technically controlled variations - not a superfluous note in sight, not a note out of place.

Thoughtful. Matthew Shipp at Cafe Oto.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Although often depicted as a maverick, Shipp lovingly embraces the jazz, modernist classical and popular idioms with an irrepressible curiosity and revealed a deeply ingrained understanding of their roots and structures in his own richly hued explorations.

Early in his second set he stretched over to pluck celeste-like notes from the wires within, and gave a soft-surfaced twist to his rigorous expansions and deconstructions of standards, notably, 'Fly me to the moon' (I think!) which grew in significance each time Shipp returned to its core melody, and others which bore the flavour of the Monk songbook. At one point he seemed poised to break in to boogie-woogie, but the moment passed as he changed direction, never to be second-guessed.


A blur of hands and fast-moving fingers. Matthew Shipp at Cafe Oto.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice minimal drawing as usual.

    More of these, please.

    ReplyDelete