Matthew Shipp

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Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp in 2005.
Matthew Shipp in 2005.
Background information
Born (1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 63)
Wilmington, Delaware, United States
GenresFree jazz, avant-garde jazz, free improvisation, post bop
Years active1987–present
LabelsThirsty Ear, FMP, No More, hatOLOGY, RogueArt, ESP-Disk, AUM Fidelity

Matthew Shipp (born December 7, 1960) is an American avant-garde jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Shipp was raised in Wilmington, Delaware.[1] His mother was a friend of trumpeter Clifford Brown.[4]

He began playing piano at five years old.[5] Shipp was strongly attracted to jazz, but also played in rock groups while in high school.

Shipp attended the University of Delaware for "a couple years" before dropping out.[6] He opted instead to live with his parents and focus on practicing, though he frequently traveled to Philadelphia to pick up gigs as a cocktail pianist and to study with Dennis Sandole, who Shipp has cited as playing an important role in his development.[6]

He later spent a year at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with saxophonist and composer Joe Maneri, but again dropped out without completing a degree.[6]


Shipp moved to New York in 1984 and has been very active since the early 1990s, appearing on dozens of albums as a leader, sideman, or producer.[7] (Before making a living playing music, Shipp worked in a bookshop as an assistant manager. He was fired, he threw some books at his boss, and he decided he would not look for a day job anymore.[8])

He was initially most active in free jazz but has since branched out, particularly exploring music that touches on contemporary classical, hip hop, and electronica.[9] Earlier in his career Shipp was compared to some of his predecessors in the jazz piano pantheon, but has since been recognized as a complete stylistic innovator on the piano, with AllMusic referring to his "unique, instantly recognizable style",[10] and Larry Blumenfeld in Jazziz magazine referring to Shipp as "stunning in originality" and to his album 4D as "further proof of his idiosyncratic genius".

Shipp has also been celebrated by a wide range of artists: David Bowie has praised his work (specifically "Rocket Shipp" from the album Nu Bop),[11] and Thurston Moore, who first saw him perform in 1990, has complimented his cross-genre appeal: "I see the same people showing up for Matthew's gigs as for Merzbow".[1] (As a member of the David S. Ware Quartet, Shipp has opened for Sonic Youth.)[9] Shipp has also been noted for his association with punk-rock icon Henry Rollins, who released several of Shipp's records on his 213 imprint.[1] In 2010, Rollins wrote, "Matthew Shipp and his work have fascinated me since I first heard him many years ago. His originality and approach sometimes stretches the limits of what is considered Jazz music yet at the same time, describes perfectly the fierce freedom of it. ... Matthew is not only a brilliant Jazz pianist, he is a true artist and visionary."[12] In the early 1990s Shipp also befriended Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power), then his next-door neighbor.[6]

One of the first people Shipp sought out upon arriving in New York was William Parker, who he knew from his recordings with Cecil Taylor; Parker later recommended him for saxophonist David S. Ware's quartet, alongside Parker himself and a series of drummers (Marc Edwards, Susie Ibarra, Guillermo E. Brown, Whit Dickey).[6] As a member of Ware's quartet, Shipp recorded albums for Homestead (Cryptology and DAO), Thirsty Ear (Threads, Live in the World, BalladWare), AUM Fidelity (the label's first release, Wisdom of Uncertainty, as well as Corridors & Parallels, Freedom Suite, and Renunciation), Silkheart (Great Bliss, Vol. 1 Great Bliss, Vol. 2, Oblations and Blessings), Columbia (Go See the World, Surrendered), and DIW (Flight of I, Third Ear Recitation, Earthquation, Godspelized).[13]

In addition, the rhythm section of Shipp, Parker, and Brown recorded Ware compositions without Ware in 2003, released by Splasc(H) Records as The Trio Plays Ware, and Shipp and Ware performed as a duo, recorded in concert and released by AUM Fidelity as Live in Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004.[13] In 2001, Gary Giddens wrote for The Village Voice that "The David S. Ware Quartet is the best small band in jazz today".[14] After Ware's death, Shipp wrote, "Some have compared our unit to the classic Coltrane quartet, but the members of our group all brought something to the table that only someone playing now could bring—resulting in a gestalt that is of its time and does not look back. When free jazz seemed like a spent force, he brought something new—and greatly beautiful—to it."[15]

Shipp was also a member of Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory, which Shipp said "could be seen as an extension of some post-Coltrane concepts, but in Roscoe's hands it is extended technique with multiple pulses", noting "[Mitchell's] insistence at all times of transcending cliché".[16]

Shipp has recorded or performed with many other musicians, including High Priest and Beans of Antipop Consortium, Michael Bisio, Daniel Carter, DJ Spooky, El-P, Mat Maneri, Joe Morris, Ivo Perelman, Mat Walerian, Allen Lowe, and Chad Fowler. He has also co-led the group East Axis, with bassist Kevin Ray, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and saxophonists Allen Lowe (first album) and Scott Robinson (second album).

The New York Times has noted Shipp's curatorial work for Thirsty Ear Records as "one of the label's chief consultants and most prolific artists".[17] Shipp's own releases on the label include 2011's double-disc album, entitled Art of the Improviser; AllMusic called the work a "testament to Shipp's achievements, yet it is also a continuation of the discovery in his developmental musical language"[18] and the Chicago Tribune called the project "monumental" and "galvanic as ever".[19] Thirsty Ear also released Shipp's 2013 solo record Piano Sutras, which PopMatters described as "the kind of record we talk about and play for each other decades later ... music that frames up a whole history: of an artist, of listeners, of the artists who formed the history of the art form, of the culture and time that allowed this art to flourish".[20] This was followed by 2015's The Conduct of Jazz, the first album by Shipp's trio with bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker.

Shipp's work with the France-based RogueArt imprint began with the 2006 album Salute to 100001 Stars: A Tribute to Jean Genet by the group Declared Enemy (Sabir Mateen, Shipp, William Parker, and Gerald Cleaver). From 2006 to 2013, Shipp appeared on five albums released through RogueArt, one of which (Un Piano) billed Shipp as leader; from 2015 to 2022, the label put out six more albums with Shipp as leader, and another nine on which he was co-billed with, among others, Mark Helias, Nate Wooley, William Parker, Mat Maneri, John Butcher, and Evan Parker.[21]

Shipp began working with ESP-Disk with the Shipp/Mat Walerian duo album Live at Okuden, billed as The Uppercut. Issued in 2015, it was the last new release approved by ESP-Disk's founder Bernard Stollman.[22] All four of Walerian's albums with Shipp have been released on ESP-Disk’. Shipp's first ESP albums as leader were a quartet album, Sonic Fiction, and a solo album, Zer0, both issued in 2018. After that, he released several albums by his trio with Michael Bisio and Newman Taylor Baker: Signature, The Unidentifiable, and World Construct.[23] The latter was called "a career-defining album" and awarded five stars by critic Mike Hobart in the Financial Times.[24] In 2022 a duo album by Shipp and Ivo Perelman, Fruition, was released by ESP, with NPR's Nate Chinen stating in his review, "The freeform alchemy between Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman and American pianist Matthew Shipp is by now a proven fact: rarely do two musicians achieve a higher flow state in real time."[25]

In 2020, Longtime Shipp collaborator Whit Dickey started a label called Tao Forms; as of January 2023, the label had released two Shipp albums, The Piano Equation and Codebreaker, both solo releases, and four further albums on which he collaborates.[26]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Release year Title Label Personnel/Notes
1988 Sonic Explorations Cadence Jazz Duo with Rob Brown (alto sax)
1992 Points Silkheart Quartet with Rob Brown (alto sax), William Parker (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
1992 Circular Temple Quinton Trio with William Parker (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
1994 Zo Rise Duo with William Parker (bass)
1995 Critical Mass 2.13.61 Quartet with Mat Maneri (violin), William Parker (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
1996 Symbol Systems No More Solo piano
1996 Prism Brinkman Trio with William Parker (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
1996 2-Z 2.13.61 Duo with Roscoe Mitchell (saxophones)
1997 The Flow of X 2.13.61 Quartet with Mat Maneri (violin), William Parker (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
1997 Before the World FMP Solo piano
1997 By the Law of Music hatHUT String Trio with Mat Maneri (violin), William Parker (bass)
1997 Thesis hatOLOGY Duo with Joe Morris (guitar)
1998 The Multiplication Table hatOLOGY Trio with William Parker (bass), Susie Ibarra (drums)
1998 Strata hatOLOGY Quartet with Roy Campbell (trumpet), Daniel Carter (saxophones, flute, trumpet), William Parker (bass)
1999 DNA Thirsty Ear Duo with William Parker (bass)
1999 Magnetism Bleu Regard Solo, duo and trio performances with Rob Brown (alto sax, flute), William Parker (bass)
2000 Gravitational Systems hatOLOGY Duo with Mat Maneri (violin)
2000 Pastoral Composure Thirsty Ear Quartet with Roy Campbell (trumpet), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2001 Expansion, Power, Release hatOLOGY String Trio with Mat Maneri (violin), William Parker (bass)
2001 New Orbit Thirsty Ear Quartet with Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2002 Songs Splasc(h) Solo piano
2002 Nu Bop Thirsty Ear With William Parker (bass), Guillermo E. Brown (drums), Daniel Carter (sax, flute), FLAM (synths, programming)
2003 Equilibrium Thirsty Ear With William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), Khan Jamal (vibes), FLAM (synths, programming)
2003 Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp Thirsty Ear
2003 The GoodandEvil Sessions Thirsty Ear With Roy Campbell (trumpet), Alex Lodico, Josh Roseman (trombone), Miso (turntables), William Parker (bass), Danny Blume (drums, guitar, programming), Chris Kelly (drums, programming)
2003 The Sorcerer Sessions Thirsty Ear With Evan Ziporyn (clarinets), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), FLAM (synths, programming), Daniel Bernard Roumain (violin)
2004 The Trio Plays Ware Splasc(h) Trio with William Parker (bass), Guillermo E. Brown (drums)
2004 Harmony and Abyss Thirsty Ear With William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), FLAM (synths, drums programming)
2005 In Finland Cadence Jazz Trio with Joe McPhee (soprano sax, trumpet), Dominic Duval (bass)
2005 One Thirsty Ear Solo piano
2006 Phenomena of Interference Hopscotch With Steve Dalachinsky
2006 Salute to 100001 Stars – A Tribute to Jean Genet RogueArt As the band Declared Enemy; with Sabir Mateen (alto sax, flute, clarinet), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), Denis Lavant (spoken words)
2007 Piano Vortex Thirsty Ear Trio with Joe Morris (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2007 Abbey Road Duos Treader Duo with Evan Parker (tenor sax, soprano sax)
2008 Right Hemisphere RogueArt As the band Right Hemisphere; quartet with Rob Brown (alto sax), Joe Morris (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2008 Un Piano RogueArt Solo piano
2008 Cosmic Suite Not Two Quartet with Daniel Carter (reeds), Joe Morris (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2009 Harmonic Disorder Thirsty Ear Trio with Joe Morris (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2010 4D Thirsty Ear Solo piano
2010 SAMA Not Two Duo with Sabir Mateen (reeds)
2010 Creation Out of Nothing (Live in Moscow) SoLyd Solo piano
2011 Night Logic RogueArt Trio with Marshall Allen (alto sax, flute, EVI), Joe Morris (bass)
2011 Art of the Improviser Thirsty Ear Solo piano and trio with Michael Bisio (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2011 SaMa Live in Moscow SoLyd Duo with Sabir Mateen (saxophone)
2011 Cosmic Lieder AUM Fidelity Duo with Darius Jones (alto sax)
2011 Broken Partials Not Two Duo with Joe Morris (bass)
2012 Elastic Aspects Thirsty Ear Trio with Michael Bisio (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2012 Floating Ice Relative Pitch Duo with Michael Bisio (bass)
2013 Rex, Wrecks & XXX RogueArt Duo with Evan Parker (tenor sax)
2013 Piano Sutras Thirsty Ear Solo piano
2014 Root of Things Relative Pitch Trio with Michael Bisio (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2014 The Darkseid Recital AUM Fidelity Duo with Darius Jones (alto sax)
2014 I've Been to Many Places Thirsty Ear Solo piano
2015 To Duke RogueArt Trio with Michael Bisio (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2015 Live at Okuden ESP-Disk As the band The Uppercut; with Mat Walerian (reeds)
2015 The Gospel According to Matthew & Michael Relative Pitch Chamber Ensemble; trio with Mat Maneri (viola), Michael Bisio (bass)
2015 Our Lady of the Flowers RogueArt As the band Declared Enemy; quartet with Sabir Mateen (tenor sax, clarinet), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)
2015 The Conduct of Jazz Thirsty Ear Trio with Michael Bisio (bass), Newman Taylor Baker (drums)
2016 Live in Seattle Arena Music Promotion Duo with Michael Bisio (bass)
2016 Live at Okuden ESP-Disk As the band Jungle; with Mat Walerian (reeds), Hamid Drake (drums)
2016 Cactus Northern Spy Duo with Bobby Kapp (drums)
2017 Piano Song Thirsty Ear Trio with Michael Bisio (bass), Newman Taylor Baker (drums)
2017 Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zürich hatOLOGY Solo piano
2017 This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People ESP-Disk As the band Toxic; with Mat Walerian (reeds), William Parker (bass, shakuhachi)
2017 Not Bound Fortune Quartet with Daniel Carter (reeds), Michael Bisio (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2018 Accelerated Projection RogueArt Duo with Roscoe Mitchell (tenor & soprano sax, flute)
2018 Zero ESP-Disk Solo piano
2018 Sonic Fiction ESP-Disk Quartet with Mat Walerian (reeds), Michael Bisio (bass), Whit Dickey (drums)
2019 Signature ESP-Disk Trio with Michael Bisio, Newman Taylor Baker
2020 The Unidentifiable ESP-Disk Trio with Michael Bisio, Newman Taylor Baker
2020 The Piano Equation TAO Forms Solo piano
2021 Codebreaker TAO Forms Solo piano
2021 Cool With That ESP-Disk As East Axis; with Gerald Cleaver, Kevin Ray, Allen Lowe
2022 World Construct ESP-Disk Trio with Michael Bisio, Newman Taylor Baker
2023 No Subject Mack Avenue- Brother Mister As East Axis; with Gerald Cleaver, Kevin Ray, Scott Robinson

As sideman[edit]

Release year Leader Title Label
1991 David S. Ware Great Bliss, Vol. 1 Silkheart
1991 David S. Ware Great Bliss, Vol. 2 Silkheart
1992 David S. Ware Flight of I DIW/Columbia
1993 David S. Ware Third Ear Recitation DIW
1994 David S. Ware Earthquation DIW
1995 David S. Ware Cryptology Homestead
1996 David S. Ware Oblations and Blessings Silkheart
1996 David S. Ware DAO Homestead
1996 David S. Ware Godspelized DIW
1997 David S. Ware Wisdom of Uncertainty AUM Fidelity
1998 David S. Ware Go See the World Columbia
2000 David S. Ware Surrendered Columbia
2001 David S. Ware Corridors & Parallels AUM Fidelity
2002 David S. Ware Freedom Suite AUM Fidelity
2003 David S. Ware Threads Thirsty Ear
2005 David S. Ware Live in the World Thirsty Ear
2006 David S. Ware BalladWare Thirsty Ear
2007 David S. Ware Renunciation AUM Fidelity
2009 David S. Ware Live in Vilnius NoBusiness
2016 David S. Ware Live in Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004 AUM Fidelity
1997 Rob Brown Blink of an Eye No More
1998 Mat Maneri So What? hatOLOGY
2001 Whit Dickey Life Cycle AUM Fidelity
2017 Whit Dickey Vessel in Orbit AUM Fidelity
2004 El-P High Water Thirsty Ear
1992 Roscoe Mitchell This Dance Is for Steve McCall Black Saint
1999 Roscoe Mitchell Nine to Get Ready ECM
2003 Roscoe Mitchell The Bad Guys Around Jazz
2014 Jemeel Moondoc The Zookeeper's House Relative Pitch
2018 Jemeel Moondoc The Astral Revelations RogueArt
1996 Joe Morris Elsewhere Homestead
2000 Other Dimensions In Music Time Is of the Essence Is Beyond Time Homestead
1996 Ivo Perelman Cama de Terra Homestead
1997 Ivo Perelman Bendito of Santa Cruz Cadence Jazz
1999 Ivo Perelman Brazilian Watercolour Leo
2011 Ivo Perelman The Hour of the Star Leo
2012 Ivo Perelman The Foreign Legion Leo
2012 Ivo Perelman The Clairvoyant Leo
2012 Ivo Perelman The Gift Leo
2013 Ivo Perelman The Edge Leo
2013 Ivo Perelman The Art of the Duet, Volume One Leo
2013 Ivo Perelman Enigma Leo
2013 Ivo Perelman Serendipity Leo
2013 Ivo Perelman A Violent Dose of Anything Leo
2014 Ivo Perelman Book of Sound Leo
2014 Ivo Perelman The Other Edge Leo
2015 Ivo Perelman Callas Leo
2015 Ivo Perelman Butterfly Whispers Leo
2015 Ivo Perelman Complementary Colors Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman Soul Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman Corpo Leo
2016 Ivo Perelman The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 3 Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 1: Titan Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 2: Tarvos Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 3: Pandora Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 4: Hyperion Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 5: Rhea Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 6: Saturn Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 7: Dione Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman Live in Brussels Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman Live in Baltimore Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman Heptagon Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman Scalene Leo
2017 Ivo Perelman Philosopher's Stone Leo
2018 Ivo Perelman Oneness Leo
2022 Ivo Perelman Fruition ESP-Disk


  • Logos And Language: A Post-Jazz Metaphorical Dialogue[27] (RogueArt, 2008) with Steve Dalachinsky
  • Allen, Clifford: Singularity Codex. Matthew Shipp on RogueArt (210 pages, RogueArt, 2023)


  1. ^ a b c d Shatz, Adam (January 25, 1998). "A Jazz Pianist Stands Tall In the Rock Underground". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  2. ^ Cohan, Brad (July 6, 2012). "Q&A: Matthew Shipp On His Early New York Days, Getting Shit For Playing Electronics, And Black Music Disaster". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  3. ^ Cantor, Dave (July 17, 2020). "Matthew Shipp's Steady Diet Of Improv And Hard News". DownBeat. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  4. ^ Agovino, Michael J. (January 17, 2017). "Prolific Free-Jazz Pianist Matthew Shipp Leaves Recording Behind". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  5. ^ "A Fireside Chat with Matthew Shipp". Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hawkins, Seton (May 21, 2020). "Matthew Shipp: Poetic Connection". All About Jazz. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  7. ^ Holley Jr., Eugene (February 17, 2017). "Q&A with Matthew Shipp: On Home Turf". DownBeat. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  8. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Um café Com... Matthew Shipp". YouTube. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Cohan, Brad (February 8, 2017). "Jazz Icon Matthew Shipp on Ending His Recording Career With 'Piano Song'". The Observer. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  10. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Matthew Shipp Biography by Thom Jurek". AllMusic. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  11. ^ "David Bowie Wonderworld News September 2005".
  12. ^ "Jazz news: Guest Post: Henry Rollins on Matthew Shipp". October 8, 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Matthew Shipp: Credits". Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  14. ^ Giddins, Gary (July 31, 2001). "Go Tell It on the Mountain: David Ware's Quartet Demands Overstatement". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on December 28, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  15. ^ Shipp, Matthew (October 21, 2012). "Pianist Matthew Shipp Says Goodbye to Tenor Colossus David S. Ware". The Daily Beast.
  16. ^ "Why Roscoe Mitchell is Important: MATTHEW SHIPP".
  17. ^ Chinen, Nate (June 19, 2006). "A Jazz Smorgasbord for a Central Park Evening". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  18. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Art of the Improviser Review by Thom Jurek". Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  19. ^ Reich, Howard (February 21, 2011). "Matthew Shipp at 50". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  20. ^ Layman, Will (September 24, 2013). "Matthew Shipp: Piano Sutras". PopMatters. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  21. ^ "Matthew Shipp". RogueArt. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  22. ^ "With the Uppercut: Live at Okuden".
  23. ^ "Matthew Shipp". ESP-Disk'. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  24. ^ Hobart, Mike (July 1, 2022). "Matthew Shipp Trio: World Construct — a career-defining album". Financial Times. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  25. ^ Chinen, Nate (September 13, 2022). "Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp". WRTI. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  26. ^ "TAO Forms". AUM Fidelity. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  27. ^ "RogueArt, JAZZ label". Retrieved January 31, 2013.

External links[edit]