Amaryllis

COMPOSERS: Crispell,Motian,Peacock
LABELS: ECM
PERFORMER: Marilyn Crispell (p), Gary Peacock (db), Paul Motian (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 013 400-2

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Marilyn Crispell is an exceedingly talented American pianist in her early fifties, who has long been associated with free improvisers. In recent years she has brought a new lyricism and emotional resonance to her music. Peacock and Motian, too, are experienced free improvisers, but have also worked in more conventional contexts.

All three brought compositions to this session, and four slow pieces, including the title track, were totally improvised with such focus that they seem precomposed. ‘Amaryllis’, for example, begins with solo pizzicato bass and cymbal colours, and grows organically as the piano enters in a slow tempo with Crispell’s wonderful touch and fluid phrases making it sing.

The bass plays sonorous counter-lines, Motian’s percussion colours the proceedings and the performance ends with swirling piano phrases simmering down to quietude and silence. Several pieces are played rubato (in flexible time), including all four totally improvised performances, but there are three exhilarating bravura performances which clear the air of romantic brooding: Peacock’s ‘December Greenwings’, Crispell’s ‘Rounds’ and Motian’s ‘Morpion’.

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Crispell’s trio never functions like a conventional jazz trio with bass and drums playing time while the piano does most of the improvising, because bass and drums are constantly interacting with each other and the piano.