\Crispell and Peacock come to this duet love feast with impeccable musical credentials. Crispell was a member of Antony Braxton’s quartet for ten years and has graced other modernist groups, including ensembles led by Reggie Workman, Anders Jormin, Henry Grimes and Barry Guy. She has recorded twenty-three prior albums as leader or co-leader. I have only a few of them: her fine solo album, Plays Coltrane, 2000) her duets with Steve Lacy on his Five Facings (1996), and two trio albums with Peacock and Paul Motian, Nothing Ever Was, Anyway: Music of Annette Peacock (1997) and Amaryllis (2001). She can thunder with the best of the modernist piano players –distinctive enough but in the school of Cecil Taylor or perhaps Paul Bley. But this album highlights her melodic side, perhaps because she is playing with the virtuoso bassist Gary Peacock.
Peacock too has modernist credentials –what else can you call someone who played with such intelligence and brio on Albert Ayler’s harsh fiery trio album, Spiritual Unity (1964/5)?—but he is above all an intelligent player, who given the chance to play lyrically, rises to the challenge with strength and grace.
And that’s what happens here. On several of the cuts, notably “Goodbye,” “Waltz After David M,” “Lullaby” and “Azure,” this album sounds indebted to the great Bill Evans trio, only minus the drums. Crispell’s command of her instrument allows her to play romantically without losing muscle and Peacock sounds at times very much like Scott La Faro. (But playing with much deeper tones than La Faro usually got from his instrument –La Faro favored the top of the string bass bridge in both his solo work and his supporting lines.) These are two assured and creative artists --but the listener who enjoys the classic Bill Evans trio cuts from 1961 will be happy with these as well.
“Patterns” and “Leapfrog” show another side of the duo: briskly played phrases on piano, echoed and amplified by the bass, at times polyphony, at other times like trading fours (or twos [or ones]) but intently listening to what each other is playing. The album includes one solo piece each by Crispell and Peacock. Peacock, especially, is intelligently lyrical in his solo.
This album is a pleasure to listen to. It rewards both the ears (heart) and mind.