The first installment of a recurring feature on sounditoutnyc.com, an artist answering a survey inspired by the famous Proust Questionnaire…
(Matthew Shipp performing at Greenwich House. Photo: Bradley Bambarger.)
Pianist Matthew Shipp, a native of Delaware born in 1960, has been a fixture in New York City’s avant-jazz scene since the 1980s, and he remains as prolific as ever, releasing multiple albums each year as a leader for various labels (not to mention his appearances as a sideman). In the early 2000s, Shipp began curating Thirsty Ear’s Blue Series, shepherding a line of albums that melded progressive jazz with beat and remix culture in an artful, evergreen way. Prior to becoming a standout soloist and bandleader, he was a member of saxophonist David S. Ware’s edgy quartet for more than a decade. Subsequently, Shipp has collaborated extensively with saxophonist Ivo Perelman. The pianist’s most recent studio release as a leader is Piano Song (Thirsty Ear), with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker. But there have also been three live albums featuring Shipp available this year: the solo Invisible Touch at Taktlos Zurich (Hatology); This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People (ESP-Disk), with reed player Mat Walerian and bassist William Parker; and Magnetism(s) (Rogue Art), with Parker and saxophonist Rob Brown. Shipp performed solo in the Sound It Out series in September 2014. — BB
- What was the first jazz album you fell in love with and stayed in love with?
Solo Piano by Phineas Newborn Jr.
- What do you think is one of the most overrated jazz albums ever?
Any Return to Forever album.
- What’s one of your all-time favorite non-jazz albums?
Low by David Bowie.
- What’s the last album you listened to from beginning to end – and did you like it?
Study in Brown by Clifford Brown – I love it.
- What’s your favorite film score?
Not sure – maybe Jesus Christ Superstar, if that counts.
- What was the most recent concert – of any genre – that made you fall in love with music all over again?
I have not been to a live gig lately except for hearing others at the same festivals I’ve been playing – and I haven’t really experienced the sort of enthusiasm that I had when I was young, as far as being in the audience at someone else’s concert.
- Which are your very favorite and least favorite venues for live music?
My favorite venue is the Earth as a whole – I love to play for people who listen, wherever it is. My least favorite would be places with horrible pianos, wherever that may be. I love to play, but a bad piano hurts.
- What’s your favorite quote about music?
“If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” — Charlie Parker
- If you could have a drink with any visual artist of the past, who would it be?
- What are the top three tools of your trade?
My brain. A good piano. If it’s not an acoustic gig, then a good monitor.
- What’s your most indispensable piece of technology that isn’t music-oriented?
My desktop computer.
- What are your top media sources of writing/opinion/news about music?
All About Jazz. It used to be the JazzTimes website.
- What living person do you most admire – and what’s one quality he or she has that you most admire?
The boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., for the dedication to his craft.
- What living person do you most despise – and what’s one quality he or she has that you most despise?
Donald Trump – every aspect of his existence.
- What’s your favorite place in the world? Use three words to describe it.
My apartment – feels like home.
- If you could live in another time period, when would that be?
The void which is outside of space/time.
- What book would you most like to read again?
Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot.
- What film haven’t you seen that you feel like you should?
- What aspect of the past do you miss most (not a person) – and what’s one thing you look forward to about the future that doesn’t yet exist?
I miss life before social media, which has cheapened everything. And I look forward to teleportation.
- What would you like your last meal to be?
Steak and eggs.