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Pianist Marilyn Crispell has emerged as one of the finest modern jazz artists of our time based upon her past and ongoing work with members of the British Free-Jazz movement, recordings with saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, drummer/composer Gerry Hemingway, strong outings for ECM records and more. With the recently released 2-CD package featuring music from now out-of-print LP’s titled Selected Works 1983-1986, Crispell performs solo piano, several duets with drummer Doug James and one thirty-eight minute opus for quartet, featuring bassist Marcio Mattos, cellist Didier Petit and drummer Yoval Mincemacher.
The opening piece on Disc 1, titled “Archaic Visions Part I” is a solo piano tour de force, as Ms. Crispell utilizes blues and jazz-based motifs as forums for abstract thematic developments, rendered via fluctuating meter and rapid crescendos. However, Ms. Crispell’s Cecil Taylor-like left hand, right hand mode of attack is marked by mini themes, awash with stirring melodies and intricate harmonic developments. Meanwhile, Crispell and drummer Doug James go rolling and tumbling atop fiery call and response type dialogue and maniacal swing motifs, as they explore a multitude of odd-metered rhythms and sinewy paths. Ultimately, these remastered tapes provide an insightful portraiture of Marilyn Crispell’s early-mid 80’s cunning inventiveness as the artist surges onward into the new millennium with much more to offer. Recommended.