Marilyn Crispell

MGM Trio

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MGM Trio stands for Marilyn, Gerry, and Michael -- as in Crispell, Hemingway, and Moore. This program, rather than be what one would expect -- a wooly free for all improvisation by three heavy hitters -- is actually a compilation of two recording sessions done in 1994-95 where the trio played Moore's compositions. Some of these were written for this group, some were just written all of them are stellar and literally gorgeously played. Crispell's move away from the Anthony Braxton Quartet did her pianism a world of good. No longer counted upon to be the driving harmonic force behind his music, she can now concentrate on the warm, elegant, and complex body of lyrical ideas she has in her heart. Moore's compositions with their long, lush lines and extended harmonics and colors are perfect for Crispell. She's not a foil here, but a partner. Her gift for technical acumen is put to great use in Moore's exacting melodic mode of composing. Gerry Hemingway, too, away from the pulsating gyrations of the Braxton Quartet, swings like mad and offers Crispell more room for her expansive chord voicings by shimmying up the rhythm leg of the band. While the album plays like a suite, there are some standouts: "Real Goods," the opener with its lilting lyric line and modal entryway to Crispell's solo; "The Bigger the Dot, the better the Fishing," with its ostinato and minimalist scale that becomes a timbral stuffy for both the clarinet and Hemingway's marimba; and "Squaw Rock," with its wide open series of changes where harmonics are exchanged in the middle of intervals, end over end, for the entire body of the tune. This is a wondrous album, full of magic, mystery, and beauty.

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