Shipp, who's 50 years old, grew up in Delaware, attended the New England Consevatory of Music and has been performing and recording prolifically for more than 20 years. He's considered by many musicians and critics to be one of the most talented and important pianists of his generation, with a fast-moving, percussive style of improvisation that often has drawn comparisons to Cecil Taylor. Shipp, however, downplays the similarities to Taylor. In a 2010 interview with David Adler for Jazz Times, Shipp cited influences including Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington, as well as "the group of pianists who come out of that Ellington branch: Elmo Hope, Hassan Ibn Ali of Philadelphia, Mal Waldron, Randy Weston." (The interview also famously sparked some controversy for critical comments Shipp made about other musicians, including Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.)
In addition to his own recordings as a solo pianist and bandleader, Shipp was a member of saxophonist David S. Ware's critically acclaimed quartet for 16 years, and has collaborated frequently with that group's bassist William Parker. In recent years, he's also experimented with electronics, drawing on production ideas from hip-hop and dance music as well as jazz and contemporary concert music. Shipp's most recent recording with his trio, the double-CD set Art of the Improviser, came out earlier this year. His other 2011 recordings include a trio album with saxophonist Marshall Allen and multi-instrumentalist Joe Morris and duo albums with saxophonists Sabir Mateen and Darius Jones.
Here, though, we'll concentrate mostly on Shipp's trio, which currently includes bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey. In the first video window up above, you can see them playing an hour-long set at Jazzfestival Saalfelden in Austria in August 2011.
Down below, there are excepts from three more of the trio's performances this year, in April in Cold Spring, NY and in February in the Vortex jazz club in London and the CBSO Centre in Birmingham, England. The fifth and final video clip shows part of a Shipp solo performance at a festival in Budapest in September 2008.