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Gary Peacock Trio: Now This

Mark Sullivan By

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On some level it must be daunting to play in a piano trio with bassist Gary Peacock. He's a longtime member of the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio (with drummer Jack DeJohnette), arguably the definitive contemporary piano trio. Before that, he worked with the great Bill Evans, and with iconoclast Paul Bley (often in the company of drummer Paul Motian).

But this group has its own history: he and pianist Marc Copland have an extensive discography together since 2008, and all three players have worked together in various combinations. Drummer Joey Baron has shown an ability to adapt to a variety of musical circumstances, with this session displaying him at his most lyrical and sensitive. Peacock clearly enjoys working in the trio format: Now This was recorded in time for release by his 80th birthday.

The group revisits some Peacock classics—the only "birthday" aspect of the program—but there are several recent compositions by Peacock, as well as contributions from Copland and Baron, plus one very appropriate cover. The opener "Gaia" is one of the old tunes, a lilting waltz which was titled "Gaya" when it appeared on Oracle (ECM, 1993) in duet with guitarist Ralph Towner. It's a catchy, memorable theme, and an excellent choice to begin the program.

The next four tunes are recent, and are a bit more in the expected atmospheric ECM style. Peacock contributes "Shadows" and "This," and Copland's first tune on the album is "And Now." The group approach makes them sound as if they came from the same pen: it's an egalitarian, group sound, with all the members engaged in an equal conversation. Baron's "Esprit de Muse" is notable for opening with a bass solo—and the drum part is restrained, played with brushes. He contributes a similarly tasteful melodic drum solo to Copland's "Noh Blues."

"Moor" is another recognizable theme from earlier Peacock recordings. The arrangement builds to a kind of anticlimax: a bass solo accompanied by sparse piano and drums, rather than something loud and dramatic. The other revisited pieces are "Vignette" and "Requiem" (a stately theme that is striking, but not especially requiem-like).

The cover of bassist Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step" recalls Peacock's time with Bill Evans, so it's an especially appropriate choice for a cover. It's also a memorable theme, which adds a nice contrast to the more atmospheric material in the program. This trio bears Gary Peacock's name, but it is very much a collective of composers and improvisers. These players are always in the present: listening, reacting, knowing when to play and when not to play.

Track Listing: Gaia; Shadows; This; And Now; Esprit de muse; Moor; Noh Blues; Christa; ;Vignette; Gloria's Step; Requiem.

Personnel: Marc Copland: piano; Gary Peacock: double bass; Joey Baron: drums.

Title: Now This | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ECM Records

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