Jazz CD Reviews

Marilyn Crispell/David Rothenberg – One Night I Left My Quiet House – ECM

Pianist releases stylized improvisational project.

Published on November 15, 2010

Marilyn Crispell/David Rothenberg – One Night I Left My Quiet House – ECM

Marilyn Crispell/David Rothenberg – One Night I Left My Quiet House – ECM 2089, 63:02 ***½:

(Marilyn Crispell – piano, soundboard, percussion; David Rothenberg – bass clarinet, clarinet)

Marilyn Crispell arrived on the modern jazz scene in a customary way. As a classical musician, she trained at the New England Conservatory Of Music. She has been influenced by the jazz of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley and Leo Smith. This diversity has allowed her to explore both structured and improvisational expression. For a decade she was a member of the Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble. Crispell has performed and recorded as a solo artist and band leader. Her repertoire has included modern composers, such as John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Cogan and Anthony Davis. A recipient of a Gugenheim Fellowship in 2005, she has taught and performed around the world. Her collaborators include poets, dancers, filmmakers and videographers.

For the new release, One Night I Left My Silent House, Crispell has chosen to duet with jazz clarinetist/writer David Rothenberg. The duo, in thirteen eclectic compositions, explore numerous auditory themes. “Invocation” explores a dissonant piano run against a free-form low range clarinet notation. Crispell is using “all” the piano, including the soundboard. “Tsering” has a droning piano string opposite the low register bass clarinet melody. Piano strings and drumstick form a fragile coalescence on “The Hawk And The Mouse”. The piano/clarinet dynamic takes a more direct approach on “What Birds Sing” and “Grosbeak”. These spirited disjointed improvisations bring a decidedly energetic tone.  There are lyrical interpretations that work in a more structured environment. “Companion: Silence” develops a delicate melody line for both instruments. “Stay, Stray” emits a brooding eminence, embodied by the counterpoint of understated piano chords and bass clarinet swells.

Rothenberg shines on the bass clarinet pieces. Crispell’s piano licks are not always on display. However, “Owl Moon” is a beautiful song that features exultant and deft piano lines. The final track, “Evocation” is a plaintive, almost romantic opus, with a melancholic fade at the end. Despite an imprecise musical context, Criswell is able to inject some of her trademark piano artistry.  One Night I Left My Silent House commits to unorthodox concepts of experimentation. This ambitious release is provocative. It will be interesting to see the direction of future projects.

TrackList: Invocation; Tsering; The Hawk And The Mouse; Stay, Stray; What Birds Sing; Companion: Silence; Owl Moon; Still Life With Woodpeckers; Grosbeak; The Way Of The Pure Sound (For Joe Maneri); Motmot; Snow Suddenly Stopping Without Notice; Evocation.

— Robbie Gerson

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