Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
232

The Spiritual Beauty of Marilyn Crispell

Lloyd N. Peterson Jr. By

Sign in to view read count Views
There have been a number of pianists within the classical and jazz genres whose work have remained majestic and timeless, but never has there been a pianist quite like Marilyn Crispell. Never has a pianist been able to reach such extraordinary depths of spirituality and complexity. Nevertheless, levels of creativity rarely equate to levels of popularity and therefore, it's not surprising that visionary works remain largely misunderstood and unappreciated during their own time. Such is the case with Marilyn Crispell.

But what distinguishes Crispell so subtly and distinctly from other pianists is her innate ability to express and transcend so completely, the world we live in. And though "uncompromising" is a term often associated with musicians of jazz, with Crispell, it is a term defined much more clearly. In a society where money and egotism influence more and more creative decisions, Crispell creates from a humility that reaches far beyond the human essence of being.

Pablo Cassell said that, "The heart of a melody cannot be put down on paper" and unlike many pianists today, the brilliance of Crispell's work does not lie on the surface of the music but within the depths where only histories greatest artistic creative minds have journeyed.

Essentially, what many listeners perceive to be heartfelt playing is in reality, the ability to create the illusion of sensitivity through the manipulation of note dynamics. Not taking away from that quality but it should not be confused with the transcendent artist who explores within individual artistic and spiritual universes and is able to transcend their instrument, the notes on a page, melody, harmony and even sound itself. The few that have tried to place it into words have called it heaven, and even God. This is not for me to say.

Marilyn acquired a vast amount of her early musical and creative respect as a key piece of the Anthony Braxton Quartet with Gerry Hemmingway and Mark Dresser; arguably one of music's greatest illuminating achievements. On the contrary, I cannot express strongly nor sincerely enough, that it's in the live solo setting where Crispell's genius ascends beyond and into another realm, where life and art become nebulous, and it is here where she does her most brilliant and spiritual work.

In brief, I began writing in order to try and enhance awareness with regard to today's greatest creative artists and musicians. I grew frustrated with radio play and the focus on mid-tempo 3 to 5 minute tunes. I deeply wanted to find a way to share my enthusiasm for the intensity and creative energy I felt in performance from artists like Marilyn Crispell. To try and find a way to give this gift of music, power and beauty to others, to inspire others to listen, and to share as well.

Photo Credit

Claire Stefani

Related Video

Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Music and the Creative Spirit
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Table of Changes
Table of Changes
Intakt Records
2016
buy
Table Of Changes
Table Of Changes
Intakt Records
2015
buy
Parallel Moments
Parallel Moments
Babel Label
2014
buy
[no cover]
Play Braxton
Les Disques Victo
2012
buy
[no cover]
Affinities
Les Disques Victo
2011
buy
[no cover]
Free Flight
Les Disques Victo
2011
buy
Enrico Rava Enrico Rava
trumpet
Carla Bley Carla Bley
piano
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
piano
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Albert Ayler Albert Ayler
sax, tenor
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Satoko Fujii Satoko Fujii
piano

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.