Here's one meeting of refined minds that doesn't result in complacency. Drummer Moholo-Moholo, (known formerly by just the single surname) and pianist Marilyn Crispell have put in countless hours fashioning music from out of nothing other than the moment. They bring that wealth of experience to bear here in music which is by turns joyously unpredictable and provoked into being by the imperative of that moment.
The opening "Improvise, Don't Compromise" reads like a manifesto commitment, albeit one far less dispensable than the empty promises of politicians. It's also the sound of two musicians coming together. Crispell is almost tentative as she nags at a line, momentum developing as her thoughts coalesce. This is not however to suggest that Moholo-Moholo is merely an accompanist in this process. His cymbal work in particular is that of a drummer for whom lightness of touch is now second nature and the overall result is that of two musicians coming together in service of the greater force that is their chosen medium of expression.
The track is as such a manifesto promise in itself, and what follows is trenchant proof of their commitment. On the aptly-titled "Journey" there's nothing in the way of hyperbole; the sound of improvisation in its purest form is instead the order of the day and the scarcely audible vocal interjections of both musicians have an effect similar to that of drummer John Stevens' similar contributions to various line-ups of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Crispell follows an established precedent in going under the piano lid in search of additional colors and succeeds in coaxing out dead, near-percussive sounds. The music takes on a feeling of foreboding brought on by her subsequent work at the lower end of the keyboard, Moholo-Moholo adding to the atmosphere in his own way.
"Reflect," at least in its initial passage, is the sound of the dynamics being stripped right back regardless of the way in which Moholo-Moholo establishes momentum almost from the off. Crispell responds to it in a manner that's far from predictable, coming on like an abstract Lennie Tristano in the way she spins out sometimes seemingly endless lines only for them to fall victim to silence. Taken on its merits, the resulting space might almost be an integral part of this music-in-the-making, the creative processes behind it in thrall to the demands of the moment as well as the evolving dialog.
Track Listing: Improvise, Don't Compromise; Moment Of Truth; Journey; Soze (Never); Phendula (Reply); Reflect; Sibanye (We Are One).
Personnel: Marilyn Crispell: piano; Louis Moholo-Moholo: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.