Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Marilyn Crispell/Barry Guy/Gerry Hemingway: Cascades. Posted by Hello

This is perhaps one of my favorite incarnations of the classic jazz piano trio instrumentation. Pianist Marilyn Crispell had already played frequently with drummer Gerry Hemingway as members of the great Anthony Braxton Quartet (as well as other ensembles and straight duo settings) so they've developed a deep improvisational chemistry before this summer 1993 date in Vancouver, British Columbia. And Barry Guy is a perfect bass player add. The result is one of those CDs that I keep coming back for.

These are such inventive textures from this trio. These group composed pieces explore a great range of what this instrumentation is capable of. "Violet Sparks in Soft Air" features extended techniques on all three instruments as the entire piece works in a dynamic form that builds organically from quiet materials built from strummed piano strings and light percussion offset by Guy's expressive acoustic bass vocabulary. The piece that follows; "Resonances" features a delicate interplay between Hemingway and Guy with almost transparent entrances by Crispell. Then "Cascades" hits with the full force of Crispell's pianistic momentum that pulls the rest of the trio on board without pause as the trio launches on an exhilarating, high-energy journey across a wide canvas.

Marilyn Crispell's playing often makes me think of painting analogies. And on Cascades it really comes across as a wildly colorful and spontaneous work of three sympathetic virtuosos collaborating on a thoroughly modern and abstract endeavor. Each gesture and blur of notes sounds as a deliberate brush stroke that fits into the work as a whole with mature contrasts of density and spareness.

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