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Shipp, Matthew

The Reward [VINYL 2 LPs]

Shipp, Matthew : The Reward [VINYL 2 LPs] (RogueArt)

One of the most distinctive and introspective voices on the piano in modern improvised music, New York pianist Matthew Shipp presents a solo suite in four movements, each movement a side of this magnificently produced double LP, released to coincide with his 60th birthday, including liner notes from late poet and collaborator Steve Dalichinsky; a wonderful gift for 2020.

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product information:

UPC: 3760131271065

Label: RogueArt
Catalog ID: ROG-0106
Squidco Product Code: 29749

Format: 2 LPs
Condition: Sale (New)
Released: 2020
Country: France
Packaging: LP - Gatefold w/ 2 LPs
Recorded at Park West Studios, Brooklyn, New York, on November 10th, and December 1st, 2015, by Jim Clouse.


Matthew Shipp-piano

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The Reward is an aptly titled recording. For one, the recording, an LP from the French label RogueArt, which has been instrumental in releasing several recordings from the New York based pianist this year alone, is being released to coincide with Matthew Shipp's 60th birthday. Then, it is also Shipp's first LP only release since Sonic Exploration, a duo with Rob Brown, released in 1988. So while the medium is not exactly the most important thing, it does add a special touch with a limited 500 copy run.

Something else that makes the album special is the liner notes by NYC poet Steve Dalachinsky who passed away last year. Shipp and Dalachinsky released several works together over the years, including the book Logos and Language: a Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue (RogueArt), as well as the album Phenomena Of Interference (Hopscotch). It is nice to read Dalachinsky's free flowing homage, here are his thoughts after listening to the album through:

"as we approach the final track on side 4 of this, Rogueart's first double LP, we are struck / awed once again by Shipp's ever expanding worlds & the journey we have just experienced as the needle passes the final groove slides toward the end of the galaxy & is gently lifted up by the anti-gravitational pull we have just experienced > this stretching/contracting galaxy of often hymnal gentleness & extreme exploding nebulae / a true post-biblical piano genesis ..."

Which brings us to the music, for which I will start at the beginning, first track, side 1 of this, RogueArt's first double LP ... which begins with gravitas, a ringing, deep, and sensuous chord. It is dark, heavy, and repeats, the melody that it brackets, a sprinkling and light figure, descends deliberately downwards. This track, 'Angel Whispering,' sets a mood, expectations, and gives us a grand entry into this impressive recording. The following 'Rhythm Hymns' builds from the first track, based around some similar (but evolving) themes, it also introduces a more rhythmic impulse, adding motion to the beautiful but more static opener. As we get 'Original Beauty,' the third track, the world has opened up a bit more. Here the melodic statement is more flowing. A somewhat lilting classically charged theme spreads out across the keyboard. Then 'Deeper Energy,' the fourth track is a wave, a cascading set of runs that crash into tremulous tonal clusters, then subside.

I do not want to linger on each song, which can so easily happen in a review of album like this. There are many nooks and crannies to discover, Shipp's playing rapidly - imperceptibly - switches between from austere and lush, like a pendulum of emotion and energies. For example, side 2, track one 'Instinctive' jerks the listener along, it's stop and start harmonic rhythm is jarring. The melodic figures erupt in units, firing off as one approaches them. Then, the follow up, 'The Saccharine Principal,' is indeed a bit more sweet, but just a bit. There is sentimentality in how the chords move, in the voicings, but it's not drippy and sticky, it's more like a Lindt 85% dark chocolate bar than Hershey's milk chocolate: sophisticated, dry, and just sugary enough. Side 2 also offers us the title track. It is built on short flurries of melody, abrupt octave jumps, and dense patches of fast moving chords. The track is logical but fragmentary, and ultimately a satisfying energetic piece.

Sides 3 and 4 continues the journey of emotions and style. 'Solitude of the Sun' on side 3 is, in a sense, sunny. Solar flares shoot from the surface of this shimmering star. Pointed and precise the music is a synesthetic feast of bright yellows and sumptuous reds for the ears. 'Not a Sepulcher' is no slouch of a follow up. Akin to the energies of the previous track, it offers its own darker color palette. Side 4, last track, 'Jazz Agitator' is a wonderful closing track. It certainly has its jazz elements to it - voicings pop out, with the inimitable angular attacks that characterizes much of Shipp's work. Quick runs, punctuated with sharp chords and precisely placed emphasis, the devices that Shipp uses are artfully arranged, set next to each other with purpose, each one building on the last and suggesting the next.

Now, as Dalachinsky said, the "needle passes the final groove slides toward the end of the galaxy". The Reward is a sound adventure, the four movements are something you can come back anytime and enjoy freshly, always discovering new facets. Begin anywhere and be enveloped in the musical worlds that Shipp creates.

The Reward is certainly a nice birthday gift ... for us!"-Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective

Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective

Artist Biographies

"Matthew Shipp was born December 7, 1960 in Wilmington, Delaware. He started piano at 5 years old with the regular piano lessons most kids have experienced. He fell in love with jazz at 12 years old. After moving to New York in 1984 he quickly became one of the leading lights in the New York jazz scene. He was a sideman in the David S. Ware quartet and also for Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory before making the decision to concentrate on his own music.

Mr Shipp has reached the holy grail of jazz in that he possesses a unique style on his instrument that is all of his own- and he's one of the few in jazz that can say so. Mr. Shipp has recorded a lot of albums with many labels but his 2 most enduring relationships have been with two labels. In the 1990s he recorded a number of chamber jazz cds with Hatology, a group of cds that charted a new course for jazz that, to this day, the jazz world has not realized. In the 2000s Mr Shipp has been curator and director of the label Thirsty Ear's "Blue Series" and has also recorded for them. In this collection of recordings he has generated a whole body of work that is visionary, far reaching and many faceted."

-Matthew Shipp Website (

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Track Listing:


1. Angel Whispering 3:29

2. Rhythm Hymns 5:06

3. Original Beauty 3:26

4. Deeper Energy 5:10

5. Coherence Demanded 3:57


1. Instinctive 3:17

2. The Saccharine Principle 3:40

3. Nest 3:31

4. Inward Force 3:41

5. The Reward 5:09

6. Cosmic Clown 4:29


1. Solitude Of The Sun 3:30

2. Not A Sepulcher 4:46

3. Order And Energy 4:17

4. Energy Of Piano’s Desire 4:51


1. Piano Genesis 2:43

2. The Generator 5:47

3. Gift 4:20

4. Jazz Agitator 7:17

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Piano & Keyboards
Solo Artist Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
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