Marilyn Crispell- David Rothenburg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: David Rothenberg,Marilyn Crispell
LABELS: ECM
PERFORMER: Marilyn Crispell (piano, percussion), David Rothenberg (clarinet)
CATALOGUE NO: 179 9220

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If Rothenberg’s explanation that ‘on a couple of pieces Marilyn played a beat-up soundboard wrenched from an old baby-grand’ puts you off, think again. Crispell’s credentials as a technically accomplished, controlled pianist are as well-established as her reputation for musical honesty.

Her use of that soundboard never descends into gimmickry. She gets that grand’s innards sounding like a zither, kora or even a gong, but uses the effects sparingly. Her piano work is as clean, and precise yet passionate as ever. If it seems less ferocious than her early work, it is no less mesmerising.

Rothenberg, a philosopher-naturalist, makes music with birds and whales, and paces Crispell in whatever realms they chance upon. His work on both horns is fluent, full-toned, imbued with a strong structure.

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If these pieces were pre-composed they’d be categorised as chamber music of a high order. But, of course, it’s only jazz. Barry Witherden