Circular Temple

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Circular Temple
Circular Temple Cover.jpg
Studio album by
RecordedOctober 16, 1990
StudioSeltzer Sound, New York
Infinite Zero
ProducerMatthew Shipp, Whit Dickey
Matthew Shipp chronology
Circular Temple

Circular Temple is an album by American jazz pianist Matthew Shipp featuring his trio with bassist William Parker and drummer Whit Dickey, which was recorded in 1990 and released on the tiny label Quinton Records. The album was reissued in 1994 by Infinite Zero, a label founded by Henry Rollins and Rick Rubin to re-release out-of-print records, which was a division of American Recordings, under the umbrella of Warner Bros. Records.


Circular Temple is a suite for piano, bass and drums in four movements. The second movement, subtitled "Monk's Nighmare", is referred to by Dickey as a "bop extravaganza".[1] According to David Fricke, "the opening keyboard motif finds the pianist twisting a riff marriage of Bud Powell's 'Dance of the Infidels' and Thelonious Monk's 'Well, You Needn't'."[2] The third movement is a duet between Parker and Dickey. The fourth and final movement begins with a piano solo section.

In his book Visions of Jazz: The First Century, Gary Giddins says "If you think there's nothing to be done with Monk but play his tunes, listen to parts two and four of Shipp's Circular Temple, in which he adduces his own Monkian theme with percussive certainty."[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
The New Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[4]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz3.5/4 stars[5]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz says that this album and the previous, Points, "takes some clues from the avant-garde past – Taylor, Bley, and Shipp's personal favorite, Andrew Hill – while going their own way in a quite dramatic fashion moment to moment."[5]

The album garnered a Lead Review slot in Rolling Stone by David Fricke, who says "Even at his most extreme, as in the tidal waves of block-chord fury in "Circular Temple #1" Shipp never resorts to cheap anarchy, preferring the rigorously sculpted discord that Jimi Hendrix aspired to on the guitar."[2]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Matthew Shipp
  1. "Circular Temple #1" – 6:26
  2. "Circular Temple #2 (Monk's Nightmare)" – 10:00
  3. "Circular Temple #3" – 3:47
  4. "Circular Temple #4" – 25:50



  1. ^ Original Liner Notes by John Farris
  2. ^ a b Rolling Stone review by David Fricke
  3. ^ Giddins, Gary. Visions of Jazz:The First Century. Oxford University Press. p. 526. ISBN 0195132416.
  4. ^ Brackett, Nathan (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Fireside. p. 732. ISBN 0743201698.
  5. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2002). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (6th ed.). London: Penguin. p. 1338. ISBN 0140515216.