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Louis Moholo-Moholo: Duets With Marilyn Crispell

Nic Jones By

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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.

Title: Duets With Marilyn Crispell | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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