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Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell made outstanding music together in her trio with the late Paul Motian, the three kindred spirits recording the ECM albums Nothing ever was, anyway (1997) and Amaryllis (2001) each a modern classic. The New York Times called the pair two of the most beautiful piano-trio records in recent memory. The Peacock-Crispell duo project also has a history, albeit one undocumented on disc until now, with Azure. This extraordinary new album proves that these two musicians shared sense of lyricism, their distinctive compositional styles and their profound backgrounds in free improvisation make them exceptional musical partners in the most intimate of settings.
The albums highlights range from the sublimely melodic (the Peacock-penned Lullaby) and lyrically pensive (Crispells Goodbye) to the athletically bracing (Crispells Patterns) and folksong-like (Peacocks moving The Lea). Then there are the duos freely improvised pieces of astonishing cohesiveness (including Blue and the entrancing title track), as well as utterly absorbing solo features for each instrument. The albums title, Azure, came from Crispell, from the sense of spaciousness I felt with the music, she says. The image of an open blue sea or sky came to me.
The duo conjured the aura of Azure at Nevessa Production, just outside Woodstock the town in Upstate New York that Crispell has called home for nearly 36 years. (Nevessa is also the studio where Crispell recorded her 2010 ECM duo album with clarinetist David Rothenberg, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House.) Peacock lives not far away, in more rural environs. Along with their shared geography and longstanding musical ties, Crispell and Peacock have in common a certain life rhythm. We have a connection via meditation and Buddhism, the pianist points out. We have even meditated together while on tour.
|Waltz After David M|