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Gary Peacock/Marilyn Crispell: Azure

Pianist Marilyn Crispell and bassist Gary Peacock have performed often as a duo and played together in other settings, including the trio with Paul Motian responsible for the ECM gems Amaryllis and Nothing Ever Was, Anyway. But Azure is their first duo album. While there’s nothing surprising about how gracefully attuned to each other they are here, the intuitive power they achieve in this intimate setting is still striking. So is the range of moods and emotions that eloquently unfold.

Like Amaryllis, Azure combines composed works and songs improvised in the studio. Crispell’s edgy “Patterns,” essentially a piano solo with double-bass framing, strongly contrasts with her tender, openly melodic “Waltz After David M.” On “Blue,” Crispell improvises impulsive, blues-tinged phrases over Peacock’s alternately skipping and bluntly assertive tones, whereas the duo engages in thoughtful dialogue-like exchanges on “Leapfrog.” On his composition “Puppets,” Peacock plays an extended arco solo. Each artist performs one piece unaccompanied.

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