Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marilyn Crispell - Pianosolo: A Concert in Berlin (FMP, 1983)

Conservatory trained pianist and composer Marilyn Crispell moved to jazz through the influence of John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor, and the latter’s cascading, exhilarating style imbues this rare concert recording with a sense of breathless excitement, as she uses the entire breadth and width of the instrument to her advantage in this excellent recording. The music on this album flows outward in one continuous suite with one section of music tumbling into another with grace and excitement. The music has a crystalline feel where every note is articulated like swirling snowflakes, culminating in the extraordinary “Pulsations, Spirals” with the intense meditation of freedom played off against the elegant mixing spare and pointillist ballad of “Early Light.” The music only drops its veneer of serious exploration during an enjoyable and semi-playful rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence.” I don’t want to make it sound like this is an overly sombre or academic exercise, because that is far from the case. The music is lean and very well thought out, and it is well worth investigating for fans of progressive piano playing. She continues to have an excellent career to this day with several well regarded albums as a leader or soloist, and a highly lauded stint with the Anthony Braxton quartet. Kudos to destination-out for bringing this previously rare album to wider recognition. Pianosolo: A Concert in Berlin - destination:out.

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