Philadelphia, PA, reared pianist Marilyn Crispell looms as one of the more prolific artisans of progressive jazz and avant-garde forums amid her affiliations with saxophonist, composer Anthony Braxton and bassist Gary Peacock, among others of note. Here, she aligns with highly respected Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald, who is the co-founder of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and also composes for film, theater and TV. Therefore, many of these improvisation-based duets tend to bridge various perspectives and thought processes, and such is the case here, on this recording captured live in 2010 at London's Vortex Jazz Club. Indeed, the duo ...read more
Who leads a project is often nothing more than a matter of optics. Bassist Gary Peacock's name may come first on the cover of Azure, but there's no doubt that this is a collaborative affair, with pianist Marilyn Crispell an equal participant; the two even co-produced the recording, with label head Manfred Eicher nowhere to be found. Peacock and Crispell have worked as a duo for years, in addition to delivering two sublime trio recordings for the label with the sadly departed Paul Motian: the pianist's ECM debut, 1997's Nothing Ever Was, Anyway, and the even more impressive Amaryllis (2002). ...read more
Marilyn Crispell / Harrison Smith / Eddie PrévostCafé OtoLondon, UKNovember 7, 2012It was almost as if no-one wanted to break the perfection of the anticipatory hush at north London's Café Oto. Eventually, Harrison Smith ventured a quizzical phrase on tenor saxophone, which inaugurated an unostentatious exchange of ideas and viewpoints. Pianist Marilyn Crispell, hair draped forward shielding her face like a veil, imparted her pronouncements with gradually increasing density, while drummer Eddie Prévost's brushes danced across his kit.Crispell first came to prominence in the late '70s and early '80s with reedman/composer Anthony Braxton's ...read more
With Elephant Wings, Norwegian trumpeter Gunhild Seim grows the number of albums released, since beginning her career as bandleader of Time Jungle more than five years ago, to three, including 2007's Time Jungle and 209's Morpho, all released on her own Drollehålå imprint. Each has been a beautiful gem, demonstrating Seim's compositional skills to balance and contrast between a subtle, tender aesthetic with fierier and more intensive playing. Elephant Wings is another excellent set of compositions, with Seim collaborating, this time, with renowned American pianist Marilyn Crispell, following a joint tour in Norway and Germany. Crispell plays ...read more
There have been a number of pianists within the classical and jazz genres whose work have remained majestic and timeless, but never has there been a pianist quite like Marilyn Crispell. Never has a pianist been able to reach such extraordinary depths of spirituality and complexity. Nevertheless, levels of creativity rarely equate to levels of popularity and therefore, it's not surprising that visionary works remain largely misunderstood and unappreciated during their own time. Such is the case with Marilyn Crispell.But what distinguishes Crispell so subtly and distinctly from other pianists is her innate ability to express and transcend ...read more
There are those who decry pianist Marilyn Crispell's move towards sparer, introspective free improvisation with Nothing ever was, anyway. Music of Annette Peacock (1997)--the beginning of a now nearly 15-year association with the German ECM label. For those who prefer their spontaneity impressionistic rather than expressionistic, however, it has yielded a relatively small but impressive discography, ranging from trio dates such as the deconstructive Storyteller (2004) to unerringly beautiful solo sets like Vignettes (2008). One Dark Night I Left My Silent House represents a number of firsts for the free-spirited pianist, and is an unequivocal success.
Released a few months prior to Across the Sky (Plunge, 2009) and, despite the two releases really representing one multifaceted debut, Geggie Project is the official first release as a leader from John Geggie, a bassist deserving far greater recognition. Geggie Project finds the Ottawa, Canada-based bassist, Toronto-based drummer Nick Fraser, and inestimable free improvising pianist Marilyn Crispell entering the realm of music as conversation. Given her more recent inward-looking proclivities, it wouldn't be a huge leap to compare Geggie Project with recent Crispell trio recordings like Storyteller (ECM, 2004), but doing so only completes half the picture. ...read more
Her notes crash like waves at sea on a stormy winter's night; they gently float and slowly fall like early morning mist; yet it's the silence--the silence between the notes--which provides the haunting poetic beauty that is the music of pianist Marilyn Crispell.Lloyd Peterson: Is there a decrease in listeners for creative music today?Marilyn Crispell: I think jazz is under fire--the concept of jazz. I have noticed a change in Europe since the walls came down that a certain amount of interest has seemed to move away from that arena. Whereas in the States, where it ...read more
Louis Moholo-MoholoSibanye (We Are One)Intakt2008 Barry Guy/Marilyn Crispell/Paul LyttonPhases of the NightIntakt2008 John GeggieGeggie ProjecyActuelle2008 Put a pin anywhere in the lengthy discography of pianist Marilyn Crispell and you'll stumble on a new facet, an unforeseen window into her turbulent, ever-evolving improvisational discourse. This is because Crispell retains the ability to surprise herself--as must have been the case during her first-ever playing encounter with Louis Moholo-Moholo, ...read more
Only once in a great while does a recording come along that influences my thoughts on creativity, sound and spirituality in music. Sibanye (We Are One), duets with Louis Moholo-Moholo and Marilyn Crispell, is one of those recordings. Confronted with the racist oppression of apartheid in South Africa, Moholo-Moholo immigrated to Europe in 1964 and became a significant influence on the direction of jazz and creative music in Great Britain and throughout Europe. Now at the age of 68, he continues to create music that celebrates the spirit of freedom while Sibanye (We Are One) also provides a ...read more
Any subversion of the piano trio tradition as manifested in the clinical virtuosity of a technocratic elite is always welcome, and it's present here in abundance. This is not however to suggest that this trio lacks technique, it's just that the music they produce is so free of the constraints of any overt tradition that the results are compelling.
Listeners need hear no further than the opening title track for evidence. Pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Barry Guy, and drummer Paul Lytton are razor-sharp in terms of how they listen and how they respond to what they hear, and whilst this ...read more
Pianist Marilyn Crispell was always primarily known as a stylistic descendant of Cecil Taylor, never resting for a moment as she spewed out endless runs of high invention, cascades of pointillistically constructed density. But everyone becomes calmer eventually and this solo piano set finds Crispell in an extremely introverted state, examining the relationship between carefully enunciated melody and expansive silence. There are seven vignettes, interspersed between longer, more overtly tuneful pieces, nearly all composed by Crispell. Merging like a suite, the mostly short compositions amass a mood of spiritual contemplation, aided by the acoustics of Auditorio Radio ...read more
Pianist Marilyn Crispell has always been an intense musician, no matter what style of music she happens to be playing. Two of the high points of the ECM catalogue, from the standpoints not only of intensity, but of beauty were Nothing Ever Was, Anyway (1997) and Amaryllis (2001), both with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Paul Motian. With Vignettes, Crispell continues make beautiful music with an intensity that is breathtaking. The seventeen tracks sound of a piece, connected by a searching concentration, regardless of whether the individual piece is a free improvisation or one based on a ...read more
A relative latecomer to jazz, occupying the classical and contemporary composition spheres until the age of 28, Marilyn Crispell's early ventures into jazz and improvised music were in the context of a more aggressive approach informed by Cecil Taylor. Over the past decade, however, while the pianist's sense of adventure hasn't diminished, she's introduced a sparer lyricism, making three previous ECM releases--1997's Nothing Ever Was, Anyway, 2001's Amaryllis and 2004's Storyteller--works of rare beauty, where her musical trilogues have been more akin to soft conversation than spirited debate. The same attention to strength through space, subtlety, gentility and melodism that ...read more
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