Marilyn Crispell | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sat., April 25, 8:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $20, $15 in advance
Marilyn Crispell, who trained as a classical musician before hearing the music of John Coltrane in 1975 and famously changing direction, has been one of the most deliciously unpredictable and distinctive piano improvisers in jazz for more than four decades. She first emerged with a devotion to the restless music of Cecil Taylor, which can be heard on recordings made during her time as a key member of Anthony Braxton’s mighty quartet (1983-’95). But she’d also flashed upon a dreamier angle when tackling gems like Coltrane’s “After the Rain,” and as her career moved forward she began exploring a sound that more reflects Bill Evans than Taylor. Now she’s long been navigating both poles, most recently in duo settings. Last year’s Parallel Moments (Babel) is an improvised performance with Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald that, save for the raucous title track, maintains a lyric serenity even in the face of harmonic dissonance. A much more tender side is revealed on Azure (ECM), a 2013 duo effort with bassist Gary Peacock, a frequent collaborator. There luxuriant, meditative, and expansive composed ballads showcase an interaction both telepathic and exquisitely voiced—every note from one player hooks onto what the other produces. The more extroverted, aggressive side of her playing turns up on the forthcoming Table of Changes (Intakt), which is the latest in a history of duets with drummer Gerry Hemingway (with whom she worked in the Braxton Quartet). Here she deploys glassy clusters, dancing left-hand figures, quicksilver melodic jabs, and pensive transitions in response to the percussionist’s driving abstractions and moody interludes. Crispell privileges flow and logic above all else, guaranteeing a fully formed experience live. She’ll perform solo for this rare local performance—the first since 1999, when she played with Danish reedist Lotte Anker—providing her magical talents all the latitude one could hope for. —Peter Margasak
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