Matthew Shipp's New Orbit Matthew Shipp's New Orbit

After a brief retirement from music, Matthew Shipp comes back strong in a New Orbit. His last few pre-retirement releases, such as Pastoral Composure, also on Thirsty Ear, were good, but saw him mining the same vein, compositionally. This one's different. Right off the bat, the heavyweight presence of veteran trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith establishes a powerful lead voice to compliment Shipp's. Shipp's style on New Orbit could be described as less piano-like. Whereas he used to lay out fat complex chords à la Andrew Hill, he now lays back more. He's playing simpler, though no less effective single note lines on keys, making for more spacious music. Smith fills in the gaps with angular but equally melodic lines on trumpet. The rhythm section is sparer as well, the churning rhythms that characterise Shipp (and former boss David S. Ware) surface only on a few cuts. This gives bassist William Parker more room for some astonishing (is there any other word to describe him?) arco bass, especially in "Paradox Y." Shipp's tunes are still great and the four versions of "New Orbit" have a melody that will stay with you. (Thirsty Ear)