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Nothing Ever Was, Anyway: Music of Annette Peacock

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Album Review

This double CD is a performance of and tribute to the work of iconoclastic composer/songwriter/poet Annette Peacock. Ms. Peacock is a marginal figure, largely because of her own stubborn muse. She has, nonetheless, proved to be indispensable to the development of the music of both her ex-husbands, bassist Gary Peacock and pianist Paul Bley (both of whom, along with trumpeter Franz Koglmann, recorded another collection of her tunes called Annette on the Hat Art label in 1992). What makes this music so special is the pianism of Marilyn Crispell, usually associated with fiery improvisations and raucous solo and trio dates, with the music of Anthony Braxton. Peacock and Motian have played in restrained, quiet, mysterious bands for years, either with Paul Bley, John Surman, Bill Frisell, or any number of other ECM stalwarts. This situation, which places Ms. Crispell in the role of the "singing voice" — a place Ms. Peacock normally retains for herself on some of these tunes, and indeed does show up on in "Dreams (If Time Weren't)" on the end of disc one for a haunting and beautiful performance — offers a different hierarchy of colors in her compositional field. Performed as a suite of instrumental poems, not of the tonal variety as in classical music, but as in the syntactical and flowing variety found in literature, this collection does two things: it establishes the deep world of Ms. Peacock's often shadowy but nonetheless imposing and impressive lyricism that transcends all musical genres, and offers a dynamic shift not only for the material, but for Ms. Crispell, whose lyrical side listeners have seldom, if ever, heard before on record. From the title track, which opens the suite to the gorgeous blue/gray chordal voicings on "Open to Love" and "Albert's Love Theme," to accompanying Ms. Peacock on her vocal performance, Crispell moves through subtle changes in harmonic mode and interval with almost reverent stillness. Through side one the listener is in disbelief at the intimate interplay between the trio; Gary Peacock's almost-singing basslines caress the cymbal and brush work of Motian, who turns the bass drum into a soft, warm pad for cuing Crispell. By the beginning of disc two, these tunes serve as a framework for an entirely new kind of improvisation for the trio: one in which language has already been written (the compositions), but whose dialects need to be resolved through patience, trial, and in some cases, wonderful, poignant error. The rich melodic framework in Ms. Peacock's music and its deceptive simplicity offer the musicians here a great opportunity to plumb the depths of that lyricism as they do on "You've Left Me" and "Blood," and find in it a wellspring of tenderness. When the reprise of the title tracks comes around to end the set, it's not like nothing ever was, it's more like nothing will ever be the same, as this fine music and these musicians have gone through a quiet transformation in the process of interpretation. They have done Ms. Peacock proud.


Born: 12 May 1935 in Burley, ID

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A sophisticated, forward-thinking jazz bassist, Gary Peacock is a subtle yet distinctive musician whose intuitive, sympathetic ear for group interplay has found him crossing from straight-ahead standards to avant-garde free jazz. While his intellectual curiosity has drawn him to such wide-ranging pursuits as biology and Eastern philosophy, his immense musical talents, most often associated with pianist...
Full Bio
Nothing Ever Was, Anyway: Music of Annette Peacock, Gary Peacock
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  • $23.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 1997

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