Gary Peacock Trio
Marc Copland piano
Gary Peacock double bass
Joey Baron drums
Recorded July 2014 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
After decades of sharing a legendary board with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette, bassist of bassists Gary Peacock rides a choice wave of his own with pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron. Now in his 80th year, Peacock needs no introduction except to those who’ve been living with their hands over their ears. He’s the pioneer of a lyrical and dynamically inflected style, a consummate player who knows no boundaries of expression, and, let us not forget, an influential composer to boot. The latter point finds appropriate stress on Now This, which nestles a few featherless tunes among the fully plumed.
Perennial classics such as “Moor,” which here achievements the wonderment of renewal, and “Gaia,” which opens the set, confirm the breadth of Peacock’s abilities. Copland’s lyricism is a most welcome addition to their unfolding, peering into the heart of this music and making it crystalline. Yet the unforced feeling of emergence is shared by all, perceivable in a glint off Baron’s cymbals and in Peacock’s own forthright intimacy. Even at his most cautious, as in “Shadows,” the bassist is so sure of where he is going. Not because he sees the end in sight, but because he knows he will always arrive where he is meant to arrive. It’s one thing to trust your bandmates so wholeheartedly; quite another to trust yourself. Such commitment is a lifetime in the making.
“Christa” melts like a candy in the summer sun and finds Peacock humming through his instrument like someone newly in love. There’s also “Vignette,” a set highlight—not least of all for Copland’s beautification. The pianist’s elucidations are such that it’s all one can do to fend off surrender. That being said, his two composition credits elicit some of the most balanced playing on the record. Between the eddying, watercolor world of “And Now” and the slippery “Noh Blues,” there’s much to savor in the currency of their exchange. Baron, for his part, contributes one in turn: “Esprit de Muse.” What begins as an enigmatic tune, however, gains traction midway through and rides the rails into some concentrated swing. Another gem comes by way of Scott LaFaro’s well-polished “Gloria’s Step.” Lithe and limber as ever, Peacock navigates its familiar corridors with eyes closed and heart open, while Copland and Baron provide equally percussive support into interlocking bliss.
As epitomized by “Requiem,” last of the Peacock originals and of the set as a whole, Now This is marked by the sheer maturity of its players. To be sure, so long as you walk into this album without expectations of dramatic flourishes, you will walk out of it with something much longer-lasting: grace.
(To hear samples of Now This, click here.)