Matthew Shipp Trio: To Duke

Album review
Matthew Shipp Trio: To Duke

Matthew Shipp Trio

To Duke

Label: Rogue Art
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

You’d have to work insanely hard to make a Duke Ellington (or Billy Strayhorn) tune unrecognizable. Pianist Shipp, double bassist Michael Bisio, and drummer Whit Dickey work madly (as in “Love You Madly”) on seven Ellington classics, but the intention is never to obliterate the iconic melodies or ingenious harmonic structures, but rather to open them up, spread them across new rhythmic terrain, and give them a 21st-century edge. The results are the most probing and jauntily abstracted treatments of Ellington since, on similar missions for their times, Thelonious Monk went into a studio with Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clarke in 1955, and McCoy Tyner teamed with Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones in 1964. The repertoire includes “In a Sentimental Mood,” “Satin Doll,” “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” “Take the A Train,” “Mood Indigo,” and “Solitude,” plus four Shipp originals: a brief solo prelude; “Dickey Duke,” echoing Ellington’s “Caravan”; “Tone Poem for Duke,” all extended techniques and whispered and rumbled fragments; and “Sparks,” a fast-paced trio workout. Each player gets plenty of solo space, with Shipp doing an unaccompanied turn on “Prelude to a Kiss” that is all rapturous romanticism—on an album that typically refreshes rather than romanticizes the Duke.

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  • primary artist, Matthew Shipp Trio

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