[JPL] An Enthusiastic Welcome to a Haunt of Jazz Giants ...Marilyn
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 2 16:47:23 EST 2007
March 1, 2007
Music Review | Marilyn Crispell Trio
An Enthusiastic Welcome to a Haunt of Jazz Giants
By NATE CHINEN
The pianist Marilyn Crispell ended her first set at
the Village Vanguard on Tuesday night according to
custom, reintroducing the members of her band. What
happened next was less typical. Lorraine Gordon, the
Vanguards owner, hurried onstage to announce that Ms.
Crispell had just played the club for the first time.
And it was so beautiful, Ms. Gordon said, before
requesting an encore.
As endorsements from management go, this one was not
only unexpected but also emphatically deserved. Ms.
Crispell and her partners, the bassist Mark Helias and
the drummer Paul Motian, really had delivered
something palpably rare. Embracing melody and
dissonance, volubility and concision, they produced an
elevated art of fluctuations.
The set opened and closed with more dynamic versions
of songs from Storyteller (ECM), a meditative album
the trio made a few years ago. Limbo, by Mr. Helias,
set a standard of feverishly abstracted lyricism: the
tempo warped and flickered, and the tonal center was a
firm but shifting ground.
Mr. Motians Flight of the Bluejay began in a
pastoral vein, with Ms. Crispell playing chiming
arpeggios over a pedal drone. But during every
instance of the songs recurring interjection an
ascending sweep of sixteenth notes she inched toward
turbulence. Mr. Motian and Mr. Helias, swirling around
her, were already there.
Ms. Crispell can sound pristine or woolly, and she
courted both with full commitment, sometimes within a
single phrase. This was especially evident on the
ballads, an austere and lugubrious You Dont Know
What Love Is and one handsome major-key theme apiece
by the guitarist Tisziji Muñoz and the pianist Agustí
The sets freak-out moments were just as rewarding.
Subway, another piece by Mr. Helias, was a pianistic
scramble, like Paul Bley at his orneriest; Ms.
Crispell attacked it with savage determination. And
Cosmology served as an excuse for Mr. Motian, the
songs composer, to thrash at a cymbal and thwack at
the rims of his toms.
In Mr. Motian, who approached each downbeat from a
rakish angle, and Mr. Helias, who was dazzling in each
of his improvisations, Ms. Crispell has an
extraordinarily intuitive rhythmic team, as well as a
pair of equals.
Her respect for that relationship borders on
deference: she played none of her own compositions in
Tuesdays first set. But then came the command encore,
John Coltranes Dear Lord. Ms. Crispell owned it, as
authoritatively as if she had written it herself.
Marilyn Crispell continues through Sunday at the
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th
Street, West Village, (212) 255-4037 or
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
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