Now This: Gary Peacock's Superb New ECM Album

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Gary Peacock Trio
(L–R) Gary Peacock with Joey Baron and Marc Copland. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Double bassist Gary Peacock has been a member of Keith Jarrett’s Standards trio for over three decades now, touring all over the world with the legendary jazz pianist and drummer, Jack DeJohnette. Naturally, that doesn’t leave him much time to work on his own solo projects.

Now This, comes as a fantastic surprise. Recorded in Oslo for the German label, ECM Records, it features Marc Copland on piano and Joey Baron on drums. It reprises some nice compositions that Peacock has recorded before, including “Vignette,” “Requiem,” and “Gaia.”

I remember Peacock’s early 1960s sides that were cut on Lester Koenig’s former LA-based jazz label, Contemporary Records. They were cutting edge LPs at the time that featured a new wave of jazz musicians like Jimmy Woods, Sonny Simmons, and quarter-tone trumpeter, Don Ellis. He also recorded free jazz with pianist Paul Bley and the group, New York Eye and Ear Control; surf music for Bruce Brown films; as well as projects with Ravi Shankar, Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida, composer/pianist Steve Allen, and Bill Evans’ Trio 64 for Verve.

But Peacock is still best known for his work as the double bassist for Keith Jarrett’s trio, who have been together for an unheard of 32 years and counting! Which is why it’s such a special treat to hear Peacock giving his own musical direction and performing alongside Copland and Baron. Copland brings his own edge, which is a very different gestalt from that of Jarrett’s. Meanwhile, Baron, one of the best drummers in the business, is smooth as silk. Neither shy away and challenge Peacock the whole way through.

I think this new album goes back to the days in LA in the early 1960’s, when Peacock was gigging with Paul Bley, Don Cherry,  Jimmy Woods et al.  In many ways this cd is reminiscent of Paul Bley’s angular piano style and improvisational wizardry.   I feel the presence of Bley throughout the cd.  Freed from the gilded cage of the Jarrett Standards Trio, this new album is in some ways a return to his more avant-garde roots, and the results are wonderful.

This is a superb album to add to your collection. I give it five stars.

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