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Matthew Shipp's first recorded solo album, "Before the World" is about beginnings. The pianist carves out his own distinct sonic territory and vocabulary, employing classical forms and free improv, generating high drama at every turn. The album contains over 70 minutes of music, from taut tunelets to expansive explorations. For Shipp fans, this is a sort of Rosetta Stone, a key to the many of the musical paths he would later follow.
"This 1995 solo recital was captured in concert in Berlin and amply displays his enormous facility at the keyboard. From a ripple to a scream, Shipp is quite literally all over the piano, though he never chooses to overwhelm with simple technique." -- Willard Jenkins, Jazz Times
"Where [Before The World] stands in [Shipp's] bulging oeuvre is a subject I’d have to get a PhD in to answer, but I don’t need one day of school to know this: Sun Ra. Cecil Taylor. Matthew Shipp. Class dismissed." -- Opprobrium
"A magnificently flowing performance. As with his other solo endeavors, his constantly inventive and often lyrical approach to modern jazz piano is free from bang’n’clang clichés." -- Coda
"Shipp engages classical form, embracing technique and nuance as a compositional method as well as an improvisational force. And that's what makes this recording so satisfying." -- All Music Guide
"His approach to solo playing is undoubtedly informed by Cecil Taylor – dramatic cadences followed by diffuse notes – but he is finding his own fascinating way beyond that monumental influence." --Rubberneck
Matthew Shipp: piano
Recorded live by Holger Scheuermann and Jost Gebers on June 14th & 15th, 1995, during the Workshop Freie Musik at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.