Voices, the second volume of a projected three-part series called New York Trio Recordings, reveals that the music of Marc Copland is getting deeper and stronger. Descriptions of Copland’s piano work often mention impressionism, and a concern with texture and mood. Such characterizations are accurate but incomplete. Copland’s music contains complex substance, harmonic erudition, breadth and even velocity. But he builds a unifying, encompassing, rapt lyrical atmosphere when he plays. All his pieces, even fast ones, feel like ballads. All his albums, whether comprised of standards or originals, feel like suites.
Voices contains seven provocative originals, three by Copland and four by bassist Gary Peacock. No bassist since Scott LaFaro has claimed more expressive autonomy within a piano trio than Peacock. His solos here are objective correlatives for longing and wonder. As often happens, the only standard, “All Blues,” best clarifies this trio’s aesthetic process, because its known parameters expose the liberties taken. Even the famous vamp eventually dissolves into Peacock’s solo. For time, drummer Paul Motian lets gestures and fragments imply the whole. Copland might spill and veer anywhere. The reward of such music, continually discovering itself in the moment, is that it requires creativity, not only from its players, but also from its listeners.