Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes

The ECM label is theoretically bicameral, with jazz and classical divisions (the latter called “New Series”). But ECM blurs demarcations between categories. Many of ECM’s jazz artists have backgrounds like Marilyn Crispell’s. She was educated at the New England Conservatory and played classical music and contemporary composition exclusively until she was 28. The intellectual austerity and formality of Vignettes belongs to Crispell’s classical sensibility. But its freedom and openness is jazz-jazz of bare, molecular lyricism.

This is introverted music for very late at night, moving in slow tides of emotional awareness. There are 17 pieces, most of them short. Without looking at the track list, it is not intuitive which are entirely improvised, which are longstanding Crispell originals (“Valse Triste,” “Ballade”) and which were written by others (Arve Henriksen’s “Stilleweg”). All feel like spontaneous creative impulses that cohere into forms as rigorous and complete as notated music.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published