Gary Peacock Trio: Now This

For 32 years, Gary Peacock has been the bassist in one of the great piano trios in the history of jazz. You might think that on the infrequent occasions when he leads his own projects, he would choose another format.

Think again. With Keith Jarrett, Peacock gets substantial solo space. But in his own trio he is down front, first among equals, empowered to play his own songs, free to choose his moments, to wander and explore. In the open creative process of Peacock’s trio, pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron are also free, to lead or follow or commingle.

Many years ago, in early interviews, Peacock talked about his instrument’s “two worlds”: its upper range, where the bass can be a solo voice as clear as a saxophone or piano, and its bottom, where it can power a rhythm section. Few bassists have ever been as articulate in that first world as Peacock.

Now This contains seven Peacock tunes, old ones like “Moor” and “Requiem” and pretty new ones like “Christa.” All are like passing revelations from a Peacock solo: spare, self-contained figures of mysterious expectancy. In his haunting high basslines, melodies linger, dissolve and reappear. As for Copland, he is the right pianist for an album about atmosphere and mood. But his quietude is deceptive. His scattered fragments and his counterintuitive chords create continuous subtle diversions. Baron

is also subtle and provocative, and essential as a colorist.

Peacock is now 80. Scott LaFaro, who died at 25 in 1961, is one of his antecedents. LaFaro wrote “Gloria’s Step” for the Bill Evans Trio. Evans led a tormented life but much of his music was about joy. The trio on Now This sounds transported by “Gloria’s Step.” Peacock’s solo spills from the song, overflowing with its joy.