Marilyn Crispell

Santuerio

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For this recording, pianist Marilyn Crispell both debuted a new quartet and embarked on a somewhat different path from her previous outings and, certainly, from her long tenure with Anthony Braxton. Pulling in violinist Mark Feldman and cellist Hank Roberts (along with longtime compadre Gerry Hemingway), her music, here essentially an eight-part suite, took on a more elegiac, overtly spiritual tone. The pieces are draped around the loosest of thematic materials, the musicians instead using the wisps of ideas to gently launch into introspective investigations, occasionally coalescing into brief, more frenzied bouts, but generally remaining in a pensive state. The title track begins with a long, intricate percussion solo from Hemingway before falling into a choppy, awkward series of overlapping written lines where Crispell's angular attack (by this point far beyond the early Cecil Taylor comparisons) is set against Feldman's pining cries. Little by little, the piece works up quite a head of steam, the disjunctive rhythms beginning to mesh quite intriguingly toward the end. "Repercussions of Light," a duo between a superbly romantic Feldman and Hemingway's soft backing, is arguably the highlight of the disc, a fine composition that straddles the boundary between the ethereal and the earthy. Crispell takes off on the next track, "Red Shift," leading the quartet through the disc's most intense playing, creating a swirling cauldron of activity. Santuerio closes in the same ghostly manner as it had begun, with quivering violin over hushed, delicate piano. Overall, it's an impressive achievement, showing a new side of this fascinating musician.

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