Matthew Shipp’s recordings—and there are tons of them—are always surprising and refreshing, but hearing him live is an even more remarkable experience. Watching him play feels like actually watching his neurons fire as they translate non-verbal thoughts into phrases on the piano, all in a matter of seconds. The piano somehow seems like an extension of his brain. Yet, at the same time, the music is as emotional and rapturous as it is cerebral and virtuosic.
So I thought it would be great to actually get verbal with him for NewMusicBox. We spoke right before he went into the studio to record a solo piano CD, One, which Thirsty Ear will release in January. He said it will be his last album, but he’s said that before.
Matt talks like he plays: a million thoughts fly by in a sentence. While keeping up with him in a conversation was a challenge, transcribing our talk was downright Herculean. But it was worth the process. Our chat wandered from the role of the piano in today’s society to the relevance of genre to the shifting, but somehow never adequate, economics of making music in America. It was shocking to me that one of my personal favorite pianists alive today doesn’t have a piano in his own home, so in addition to visiting him there we also convinced him to briefly let us peak into the private world of his practice studio. Join us.