Over the past two decades, pianist Matthew Shipp's (pictured above) restless creativity has led to an almost schizophrenic embrace of musical extremes, from full-throttle free jazz to 20th-century classical to groovy electro-acoustic hybrids. But it wasn't until the year 2000 when he landed a gig as curator for the Blue Series, an adventurous spinoff of indie label Thirsty Ear, that he finally came to terms with his vision. His subsequent recordings, including most recently Sorcerer Sessions, find Shipp increasingly moving away from jazz, as it is typically recognized, into an open-ended experimental style that draws on a range of material, from electronic ambience to chamber-music lyricism, yet somehow the soundtracks manage to cohere compositionally. How the artist's new identity will translate into solo performance at this weekend's SFJAZZ "Mavericks" showcase is anyone's guess. Shipp may not even know himself until his fingers hit the keyboard. And maybe that's the point. Matthew Shipp performs on Sunday, June 13, at the Florence Gould Theatre; call 776-1999 or go to www.sfjazz.org.
-- Sam Prestianni