Tangents by Gary Peacock TrioRelease date: August 25, 2017
Label: ECM Records
Gary Peacock is a name you may or may not recognize. He is a double-bass player and he brings his instrument to the front and has played with artists such as; Albert Ayler, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Carrothers, Keith Jarrett, John Surman, Ralph Towner, and the late great Ravi Shankar. For me, I’m very new to Peacock’s music and this is a start. He’s 82 years old and there’s no stop sign for him. With the Gary Peacock Trio, they have released their second album on the ECM label entitled, Tangents which is a follow up to their debut Now This.
It features the same line up which includes pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron. The album was recorded last year in May at the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano, Switzerland. And with producer Manfred Eicher who produced Peacock’s second solo album with Tales of Another which was released 40 years ago, he’s now in the production level on the trio’s second album.
Tangents for me in my opinion is like a private concert inside your head for the listener to be in the auditorium and being in awe of the trio coming together. Peacock isn’t just a bassist, but he’s been around since day one and in my opinion, he’s been overlooked in the history of Jazz. Again it’s my introduction to his music and listening to Tangents is a journey worth exploring.
Now not only Gary himself is a collaborator who wrote five compositions as Marc wrote one and Joey wrote two for the album. Now both Baron and Copland worked together with the late John Abercrombie with his quartet on his 2017 album, Up and Coming. Not only that, but Joey has worked with Herb Robertson, Laurie Anderson, and David Bowie on his 1995 release, Outside while Marc has worked with Vince Mendoza, Herbie Mann, and John Scofield.
I’ve picked a few centerpieces on the album that made my eyebrows go up. With ‘Tempei Tempo’ Peacock’s introduction on the double-bass gives a starter on the first minute and eighteen seconds before Marc’s piano goes through various floors up-and-down. Joey’s sharp militant drum work and intensive yet swing vibration, gives vivacity dynamics that he gives both Gary and Marc as if they were a band of brothers.
Marc creates these swirling piano ominous improvisation as if a bumblebee is searching frantically to find a honey comb on ‘Cauldron’. The drums go into the increasing momentum as if Joey’s following along with Marc to let him know he’s right with him near the very end. Now while the trio shows a lot of amazing frenzy and vivid electricity, they also show their softer side.
Their take of Alex North’s 1960 film score of Stanley Kurbick’s epic, ‘Spartacus’. It’s a romantic ballad yet warm and a cool atmosphere to give the trio a chance to relax from their compositions and move into a softer yet gentle sun warmth in the sky while ‘Blue in Green’ which originally appeared in Miles Davis’ 1959 opus Kind of Blue, sees the trio honoring one of the most inspirational and influential legends.
You can imagine Peacock, Copland, and Baron looking up into the heavens as they play and knowing they are pointing their fingers in the sky to know to give Miles a nod and showing how much they have appreciation for the master himself. ‘December Greenwings’ at first you can imagine Marc is doing a nod to Vince Guaraldi’s compositions, but the mood changes. Gary goes through a not-so-brightful mood as he revisits this piece which was originally on his third studio album released in 1979 entitled, December Poems that he introduced. Now I haven’t heard the original version of this, but listening to a revisiting piece, is like opening the right door at the right time.
There’s a chilling scenery and a nod that Marc does with a Gershwin-sque on the piano running through the elevators before doing dooming notes at the end.
‘Rumblin’ gives Peacock going through this catchy riff on the double-bass and watching him going through various towns in different locations and letting the energy levels going up and showing how much he deserves a gigantic amount of recognition to steal the show. The music, you can close your eyes have this film set in the 1950s with a Black-and-White vibration in the streets of the Big Apple with a documentary vibe and closing it with a wide shot of the city as fade into black.
But it’s ‘Empty Forest’ where the trio come to form a circle. They share different improvisations and total atmospheres in the composition in which they wrote to collaborate. You can imagine a ballet dancer pirouetting through a quiet land covered with trees in the night time. The piece is looking through various reflections on life as the trio share some prominent moments and creating the pin-dropping scenarios.
Tangents is definitely up on my list for the top 30 albums of 2017 so far. And while I’m new to the bandwagon of both ECM Records and Gary Peacock’s music, this is a great start to discover Peacock and shows, as I’ve mentioned, how much he’s ahead of his time.