Marilyn Crispell / Eddie Prévost

Band on the Wall

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Recorded in 1994 at a concert in Manchester, England, Band on the Wall -- which is literally where they played -- features the divine dancing of Eddie Prévost's drumming in tandem with the piano of Marilyn Crispell, who was just then emerging out from under the shadows of her two mentors, Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton. Since Crispell was used to working with Gerry Hemingway, this set provides an amazing contrast for the pianist, in that everything in Prévost's elegant bag of tricks is very physical. Crispell is up for the spring, though, and so it begins with a simple trading of eights, which are triple-timed by Prévost and abstracted into some meditation on 16/8 time for a few minutes before whirling with Crispell to the other side of the signature, as she punches in accents and arpeggios on the backs of his beats. There are tonal considerations to work with here, but they are secondary to matching the percussive visions coming from the trap kit. Here is where Crispell's mastery takes over: She begins to work the three registers of the piano against one another, always placing the accents on the first note so the drummer knows where she is. None of the tune markers mean a damned thing. It's a tough hour, wearying and wiring by the end of it because there are precious few real breaks in the energetic pace. But it is rewarding, breathlessly so. In fact, it feels more like disbelief that they -- and you -- got through it with such satisfaction in your weariness.

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