When he plays solo, Shipp puts his artistic voice on full display. He might sometimes refer to great pianists that have preceded him, such as Andrew Hill, but he has solidified a signature approach that lives in the moment. The 11 tracks on Zero stand as ideas distinct from one another, rather than simply variations on a single thought.
Here, Shipp reveals a classical sense (“Abyss Before Zero”), plays ballads with just a splash of dissonance (“Cosmic Sea”) and offers some quick, darting lines (“Zero Skip and a Jump”). The first edition of Zero adds a second disc, “Zero: A Lecture on Nothingness,” recorded last year at the Stone in New York. Speaking for an hour, Shipp poses many rhetorical questions, with perhaps a few too many disclaimers about his lack of ability to explain his music succinctly. In the final minutes, though, he reads a couple of poems that provide insight into his approach, making the whole package an interesting look into the mind of a creative pianist.
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