Scotty Hard's Radical Reconstructive Surgery Featu Scotty Hard's Radical Reconstructive Surgery Featuring Matthew Shipp and John Medeski

Pianist Matthew Shipp has a fun job as the curator of the always forward-reaching Thirsty Ear Records’ Blue Series, but his own electro jazz contributions to the series have not been memorable. Here, he gets back to basics — playing hard (pun intended). With hip-hop/illbient/jazz producer Scotty Hard’s surgical prowess, he’s turned in his most satisfying electric workout, maybe ever. This isn’t just Shipp’s show, John Medeski is the other front-man connecting the dots in Shipp’s playing. The rhythm section features stalwart William Parker and Mauricio Takara (Sao Paolo Underground). It’s hard (pun intended) to tell what’s been stitched together and what’s live — score one for the producer — but it sounds as though everyone could have been in the same room, even with the unobtrusive sampled additions. Shipp’s doom-y piano style coalesces into some truly funky riffs, proving that he is not as vamp-averse as much of his recording suggests. Medeski is a master tone colourist, and he weaves around what Shipp lays down with either challenging or laidback phrases and textures with aplomb. Even when Shipp’s most oblique, Medeski provides colour commentary to connect the ideas into a coherent whole. The drums never stray too far from break beat patterns, but these are beats in varying states of decomposition, with Parker contributing less fussy work than is sometimes his tendency on these Blue Series release. The programming is boxy at times, but pleasingly so, and the radical processing of Shipp’s and Medeski’s tone add another layer of interest to the project. (Thirsty Ear)