Marilyn Crispell, Eddie Prevost, Harrison Smith: Concertoto

Three seasoned improvisers demonstrate moment to moment sensitivity to ensemble and idea as they pass a continually stimulating hour


If it must be labelled, I guess this is very much of the free-jazz persuasion. The music happens in the moments, as do the individual musicians’ silences and their responses to the input of the others. As such the level of spontaneity is high and the resulting music is all the more stimulating for that. 

There are moments in An Exploratory Introduction when all three musicians seem to agree on the very veiled evocation of the spirit if not the febrile momentum of Cecil Taylor, but the comparison is soon overtaken by events and the quick-fire interaction that’s a mark of this group.

Main Part 1 is a title with a clue in it as to the duration of the piece. Over the course of a little beyond 29 minutes there’s nothing in the way of contrivance, nor is there an episodic feel. The music happens by due process and the give and take of the three musicians is almost palpable, not least when Crispell posits an idea here and there only to quickly withdraw it in face of the flow and the fact that neither of her companions takes it up.

Main Part 2 starts in pointillistic fashion, with the details of the music being sketched out in a fashion collectively determined. The consequent elusiveness is an indelible mark of the music and one that doesn’t lie within the grasp of all musicians, any more than whatever it takes to be an accomplished player of chamber music does. Again there are no passages rich only with the impression of musicians “marking time” in the hope of inspiration striking again, which in itself is a sign of deep accomplishment.

An Exploratory Introduction; Main Part 1; A Meditative Interlude; Main Part 2; Finale (76.56)
Smith (ts, ss, bcl); Crispell (p); Prevost (d). Café Oto, London, 7 November 2012.
Matchless Recordings MRCD 104