Gary Peacock Trio, 'Now This,' ECM Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Jul 22, 2015 01:43 AM EDT
REVIEW: Gary Peacock Trio, 'Now This,' ECM Records Gary Peacock Trio's 'Now This' exudes a quiet complexity. (Photo : Eliott Peacock)

There comes a point in time when you throw the stats out the window and just accept a new musical offering from a guy who's been there at every change since cool jazz gave way to free jazz in the late '50s/early '60s. Bassist Gary Peacock helped raise the bass bar by his exemplary playing in the combos of Paul Bley, Bill Evans and, especially, Keith Jarrett. Now 80, he refuses to rest on his considerable laurels. Now This is his 40th appearance on an ECM album (almost half of them with Jarrett).

It's a thing of beauty, for sure.

The 11 tracks bespeak a sophistication where every note played by pianist Marc Copland, drummer Joey Baron and leader Peacock is there for a reason. No fat. No gristle. Just lean, sinewy protein with only one cover--that of Scott Lafaro's "Gloria's Step"--a twisting, turning challenge that the trio actually improves upon.

There is a stately, quiet complexity at work here, like the fine strands of a spider's web. Drummer Baron, 60, constantly pushes Peacock to his outer limits. Baron, a Virginian, has recorded 50-plus albums with avant-garde composer John Zorn, so stretching out genres is nothing new for him.

If you didn't know any better, you'd swear this was pianist Copland's date. He shines, and has played with Peacock in various ensembles for over 30 years. The 67-year-old Philadelphian is a fan of taking chances. He calls it the "essence of playing." Here, he vacillates between bop, swing, free and modal by changing courses, oftentimes within the context of the same song.

Peacock, originally from Idaho, loves to say how his conversion to bass from vibraphone "was a great and pronounced introduction to uncertainty." As a bassist, he is alternately quiet and exploratory, yet can get as out-there as any bassist on the planet (something he did in the 1960s explosions of Albert Ayler and Sonny Murray). Here, depending upon the track, he goes both ways: proving age is no deterrent to brilliantly creative and evocative music.

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TagsGary Peacock, Marc Copland, Joey Baron, REVIEW

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