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Pastoral Composure

The Matthew Shipp Quartet

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Album Review

Pastoral Composure is a rich and moving album that is one of the highlights of Matthew Shipp's array of recent releases. The pianist and composer is joined by trumpeter and flugelhorn player Roy Campbell, leading bassist William Parker, and drummer Gerald Cleaver, who are all strong contributors to this January, 2000, session. The album doesn't lose momentum from the dramatic opener, "Gesture," through the solo piano exposition — the shortest number and closer — "XTU." The first cut opens with Cleaver's unexpected military-like rolls on a loose snare that remain an integral sound throughout the piece. Cleaver is soon joined by Shipp and Parker who stir up a thunderstorm with dark, tense chords and percussive left-hand work on the piano and a constant buzzing from the bass. Campbell soon enters on trumpet to make this one of the quartet numbers on this album. The album's second piece, "Visions," will surprise naysayers with its straight-ahead seams on a jaunty form, and restrained (yet discernible) Shipp attitude. His fluid solo take on Ellington's The stormy feel of "Gesture" returns with the title track, featuring Campbell's trumpet singing atop the churning waves of Cleaver and Parker, with Shipp providing a percussive counter-melody. Two tracks later comes the dark take on "Frère Jacques" that has some near-maddening sections, as well as boggling chordal work by Shipp and interesting soloing from Campbell. While Matthew Shipp has come out with numerous releases these past several years, resulting in a slightly overwhelming catalogue, Pastoral Composure is a necessary listen for fans. It is also one of Shipp's more accessible albums, making it great place to start for those interested in checking out this important modern jazz pianist.

Pastoral Composure, The Matthew Shipp Quartet
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