Pianist Marilyn Crispell and bassist Gary Peacock have much in common. Both have been vital forces in some of jazz’s headiest explorations, while also sharing a more lyrical side to their musical personalities. The intensity of their rapport was revealed when Peacock was in Crispell’s trio a decade ago, and now comes this duo album, containing both composed pieces and improvisations.
More of the pensive than the edgy aspect of what this pair can do is on display. That is not to say that all is sweetness and pastel shades. Crispell’s Patterns has dense knots of melody split by abrupt stops, and Blue is an improvisation of chunky rhythmic impetus and bluesy inferences.
Much of the rest is more restrained, but no less enthralling. Crispell has a unique sense of the drama of a single note dropping into a pool of space, and Peacock’s slippery rhythmic sense is built on phrases with improbable start and stop points.
Both offer striking solo pieces, and Peacock’s enchanting Puppets is an instant classic. Another particular highlight is Crispell’s Waltz After David M, where Peacock’s solo alternates between ravishing beauty, devastating sadness and sudden earthy asides. Behind Crispell he moves from sparse root notes to busier counterpoints that compound the melodic wealth already brimming from the piano.
This is a major statement from two of jazz’s most distinguished practitioners.