Throughout his long and prolific career, Matthew Shipp has presented several different and impressive trio formations. Among the featured members have been bassists William Parker, and Joe Morris, and drummers Guillermo E. Brown, Whit Dickey, and Susie Ibarra. In 2015, two other premier players, bassist Michael Bisio, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker stepped in as the rhythm section on The Conduct of Jazz (Thirsty Ear). Their fourth album as a unit, World Construct makes the group the most enduring of Shipp's trios. Shipp's analytical album titles say much about the mindset of the pianist/composer, but never enough to dampen the mystery and challenges that lay in the listening. World Construct is packed with fresh entries to the Shipp dictionary. The leader leaves an open door for Bisio and Baker to build out from the foundation. A case in point is the bassist's opening on the too-brief "Tangible;" an appetizing intro for the freewheeling, sophisticated details of Baker's drumming.
If "Jazz Posture" were an aesthetic statement, it would be that the attributes of World Construct do not settle long enough to be measured in place. In contrast, "Beyond Understanding" is a purposeful, spacey and dark setup for Shipp's oddly warm and algebraic "Talk Power." The trio combines elements from both pieces in the intriguing "A Mystery State." The closing title track leads with classical elements but rapidly heads toward piercing free improvisation.
World Construct does not just expand the iconic Shipp glossary; the artist acts as a surveyor of a curiously shifting ballast. The compatible and disparate lines, classically infused melodies, and group interplay are like a series of passages on an original map. The album is the most fluid manifestation of Shipp's vision to date and in Bisio and Taylor, he has solidified one of the finest, forward-thinking piano trios in creative music.