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Azure

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 11, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B00CA4S32G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,340 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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For me Marilyn Crispell is one of the greatest pianist of the last two decade. After three albums with Peacock and Motian in ECM here is a intensive and beautiful album only with Peacok. You can find in it from melodic themes, lyrically sounds or even folk songs. Every note have sense , every sound is important. Is more than only music, is a special feeling, a different way to understand music . Very deep, very essential, is like a spiritual guide to feel the sounds. Recorderd in Nevessa, near Woodstock , you can touch the silence and the interiors meaning of make real music. For me a real masterwork. Fragile, beautiful and contemporary. Not matter how you call it, jazz , folk, contemporary music... is real MUSIC, make by two giants, Crispell and Peacock, is a real pray between two master. Incredible work.
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This set (recorded in 2011) follows some highly regarded trio recordings by Crispell, Peacock, and drummer Paul Motian, also on the ECM label. Unlike some ECM recordings which tend to sound sterile and a bit cool, this set leans more towards a warmer, more organic sound. Combined with the clean open sound ECM is known for, the sound is very good. This is somewhere between 3-4 "stars"--but closer to 4 depending on how you like Crispell's style.

If you're looking for more of Crispell's quiet, almost meditative, open-spaced recordings, this is a bit different. The first composition ("Patterns", one of seven with Crispell's name) is a good example of her style of playing spontaneous flurries of notes in a free-jazz sounding manner. Here her sound (and Peacock's) just hints at stepping over into the harder style she played with Anthony Braxton's band. The style that Cecil Taylor was so enamored of. But here she tempers it with a bit of her introspective style she has been known for, for the last few years.

The second track ("Goodbye", also by Crispell) is more like her fairly recent quiet, introspective work that sounds so beautiful (the albums "Storyteller", and especially "Amaryllis") and is in juxtaposition to her earlier fiery, emotional style. Peacock especially hangs back, letting Crispell set the mood--which has a calmness to it. "Leapfrog" (Crispell and Peacock) is a conversation between piano and double bass, with a quiet flirtation with free jazz-like passages.

"Bass Solo" has Peacock playing a warm and intelligent piece--you can hear why he's Crispell's choice on a number of her recordings. Has any other double bassist played better with Crispell? "Waltz After David M" (Crispell) is simply beautiful--no other words for it.
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This is a very dynamic recording. I have solo discs by each, but they have a special groove when they play together. It's not quite avant-garde, but it can go from simply flowing to downright explosive in a single keystroke or a woody pluck. A typically great ECM recording. A must have.
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\Crispell and Peacock come to this duet love feast with impeccable musical credentials. Crispell was a member of Antony Braxton’s quartet for ten years and has graced other modernist groups, including ensembles led by Reggie Workman, Anders Jormin, Henry Grimes and Barry Guy. She has recorded twenty-three prior albums as leader or co-leader. I have only a few of them: her fine solo album, Plays Coltrane, 2000) her duets with Steve Lacy on his Five Facings (1996), and two trio albums with Peacock and Paul Motian, Nothing Ever Was, Anyway: Music of Annette Peacock (1997) and Amaryllis (2001). She can thunder with the best of the modernist piano players –distinctive enough but in the school of Cecil Taylor or perhaps Paul Bley. But this album highlights her melodic side, perhaps because she is playing with the virtuoso bassist Gary Peacock.

Peacock too has modernist credentials –what else can you call someone who played with such intelligence and brio on Albert Ayler’s harsh fiery trio album, Spiritual Unity (1964/5)?—but he is above all an intelligent player, who given the chance to play lyrically, rises to the challenge with strength and grace.

And that’s what happens here. On several of the cuts, notably “Goodbye,” “Waltz After David M,” “Lullaby” and “Azure,” this album sounds indebted to the great Bill Evans trio, only minus the drums. Crispell’s command of her instrument allows her to play romantically without losing muscle and Peacock sounds at times very much like Scott La Faro. (But playing with much deeper tones than La Faro usually got from his instrument –La Faro favored the top of the string bass bridge in both his solo work and his supporting lines.
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