Gary Peacock, bass & Marc Copland, piano – Insight – Pirouet PIT3041, 58:26 ***1/2:
On their second duet release, Insight, bassist Gary Peacock and pianist Marc Copland consistently and confidently support each other like the old friends they are: they have worked together for nearly 20 years, although most often in a trio setting. In fact this material was put on tape in 2005 and 2007 when Peacock was involved in Copland’s trio. Peacock is no stranger to acoustic pianists: he has recorded or toured with two of the best, Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett. His understated but fearless style seems readymade for keyboardists who mine emotional, sensitive and contemplative terrain. Copland’s aesthetic is innately personal and suggestive and thus ably suits Peacock’s approach.
The 13 tracks on this almost hour-long outing demonstrate Peacock’s and Copland’s intense interaction and aspiring appeal. The two musicians weave sound tapestries that move from free improvisations to interpretative interplay and from sublime sensibility to discrete complexity while traversing a spectrum that includes Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and memorable originals.
Jazz critics have mentioned Bill Evans’ influence on Copland so it is no surprise to find two tunes associated with Evans, the Davis compositions “All Blues” and “Blue in Green,” both from Davis’ Kind of Blue, which featured Evans on piano. The opening version of “All Blues” has an enhanced tempo while retaining an azure ambience. While Copland does assert a foundation apparently grounded in Evans’ harmonic and perceptive qualities, Copland’s keyboard inflection is more conjectural and impressionistic, which works as a complement and a contrast to Peacock’s persistently spirited bass lines. “Blue in Green” is subdued but hardly simplistic and shows how intricacy can be presented within a slower pace. Peacock’s inventive solo is one of his finest on this production while Copland supplies extended phrases that linger and methodically evolve.
The duo displays a capacity to head into the outer edges on a lengthy rendition of Stanley Myer’s oft-covered “Cavatina,” the theme from the film The Deer Hunter. The twosome is straightforward during the intro but eventually the tune coalesces into a freer section that respects Myer’s intentions while allowing room for Peacock and Copland to offer intrinsic improvisations.
Listeners may discover that upon repeated listening Copland’s and Peacock’s self-penned cuts will be the most stimulating. The relatively compact “Rush Hour” is an energetic piece where Copland’s playing has a vigorous vitality that echoes Cecil Taylor and Lennie Tristano due to Copland’s rhythmic nature and considered dissonance. The brief, blues-tinged “Late Night” has a lively lope which shares some similarities with the Davis translations. Copland revisits his own “River’s Run,” first heard on his 2005 solo project Time Within Time: while Copland renders contrapuntal keyboard figures Peacock provides a decisive bass pulse that adds a steady base.
Apart from the excellent music, Insight is a top-notch audio recording. Jason Seizer emphasizes a warm, analog temperament that captures the sonority, timbre and every acoustic element, from Peacock’s rich bass – you can hear the strings resonating against the wood – to Copland’s lightest piano strokes. While this thoughtful music could become background texture if heard at low volume, its best to listen at higher amplification so each nuance can be noticed.
1. All Blues
2. The Wanderer
3. Blue in Green
4. Rush Hour
5. River’s Run
7. The Pond
8. Goes Out Comes In
9. Late Night
11. In Your Own Sweet Way
13. Sweet and Lovely
— Doug Simpson