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Who's afraid of the big, battered keyboard
Mark N. Russell | Rochester, N.Y. | 04/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If one were to see Marilyn Crispell in person away from the piano, her slight stature, and quiet manner would be difficult to reconcile with the blocked chords rocketing off one another in her more up-tempo originals. Knowing of her love of Cecil Taylor's music, one could imagine these richochets of sounds as akin to the leaps a dancer makes (the image is from something Mr. Taylor said years back.) There is something dance-like in her use of rhythm, not only as a way of defining or marking out time, but also as a means of organizing and taking space. The artistic use of space and proportion is very important to Crispell. Listen to her intro to "When I Fall in Love" with its sense of hesitation and uncertainty before she proceeds to reinvent this love song that so many have improvised on. A personal favorite performance on this disc is her rendition of "Dear Lord" (one of her most loved Coltrane tunes.) In her hands, the piano is the whole classic Quartet and this version is surging with the spirit and search of the musician who first inspired her to play jazz. Her recent dreamlike exploration of the music of Annette Peacock might find more favor with some listeners, but the majesty and yearning in "Dear Lord" won my heart on the first hearing. "Ruby, My Dear" is yet another high point with the wit that makes Monk's music so special. I'd best finish rating this so I can play it again."