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Marc Copland: Crosstalk

Dan McClenaghan By

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Rather than form a longstanding band that can soak up his musical vision over a period of years, pianist Marc Copland thrives in a universe of rotating players that keeps things fresh and spontaneous. On his three outstanding New York Trio Recordings, Copland switched bassists (Gary Peacock, Drew Gress) and drummers (Paul Motian, Bill Stewart), versatile players who are able to embrace—in their distinct ways—the subtle interplay and remarkably elastic give and take that are a big part of pianist's approach. Copland was also part of the highwire collective Contact—an all-star ensemble, with no star outshining any other—that produced the much-praised Five on One (Pirouet Records, 2010).

With the exception of Contact, which featured saxophonist Dave Liebman , Copland has been recording without a horn in the mix, in his leader outings of late. That changes with Crosstalk, a quartet effort where he teams with alto saxophonist Greg Osby, to form a vibrantly collaborative sound with a sharp and gleaming edge.

Where Liebman injected a wild, at times almost savage element to Contact's collective sound, Osby inserts a stinging, keening and more contained—if no less intense—mood to the music. Copland's music, in a piano trio mode, tends toward spaciousness and translucency, with an unhurried and often ruminative pace. With Osby in the mix—and this is obvious from the beginning, with the Copland-penned "Talkin' Blues"—a sense of urgency gets injected into the sound." And with drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Doug Weiss, there's more momentum and pop.

"Diary of the Same Dream," one of two Osby originals, explores a sharply abstract and surreal soundscape, an ominous journey through a off-kilter yet pellucid world. The band shifts into an agitated and fibrillating forward momentum on Weiss' "Ozz-thetic," leading into the lovely, but slightly dark-hued Duke Ellington vehicle, "Tenderly."

The Copland-penned title tune takes things up-tempo with some of the set's most energetic interplay, where an engaging melody features some delectably pretty comping by the leader, behind a gregarious bass solo. Lewis' "Hey, It's Me You're Talkin' To" adds a more focused mainstream mood to the set, sounding like something Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers could bite into. Copland and company close out with Gigi Gryce's "Minority," boppin' hard in a high octane groove.

Every band Copland puts together has its distinctive sound. His group on the excellent Crosstalk is no exception; music with more fire and insistence than might be expected from listening to his piano trio outings.

Track Listing: Talkin' Blues; Diary of the Same Dream; Ozz-Thetic; Tenderly; Crosstalk; Slow Hand; Hey, It's Me You're Talkin' To; Three Four Civility; Minority.

Personnel: Marc Copland: piano; Greg Osby: alto saxophone; Doug Weiss; bass; Victor Lewis: drums.

Title: Crosstalk | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Pirouet Records


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