Notes from disappearance

Last time we have listened to a solo work by Marilyn Crispell was in 2008 when she and her piano whispered us her Vignettes. But during those six years she has released three albums as a part of a duo. In 2010 Marilyn Crispell told us One dark night I left my silent house, along with the clarinetist David Rothenberg. In 2013 she recorded Azure with the double-bassist Gary Peacock, also a long solo career musician who has also played with major figures of the jazz scene like Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek.  Finally, recently she has released the album Parallel moments with the saxophonist and composer Raymond MacDonald. Playing with some tracks titles, the album is a way of subtle freedom to illumination.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1947, she is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied classical piano and composition, and has been a resident of Woodstock, New York since 1977 where she studied and became teacher at the Creative Music Studio. She started her career as a pianist and composer of contemporary improvised music in 1978 with some recordings with the Anthony Braxton Creative Orchestra, and in 1979 with Leo Smith & the Roscoe Mitchell Creative Orchestra, but they were mainly rehearsals and private recordings. Her first album was Anthony Braxton’s Composition 98 in 1981, but her debut solo recording was Spirit music recorded in 1981 too but released in 1983. Just after her solo recording in September 1981 she played along with Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and Lee Konitz at the Woodstock Jazz Festival.

Since then, Marilyn Crispell’s talent along with her passion for Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane, she dedicated to him the album For Coltrane recorded in 1987, have given us wonderful works. Besides working as a soloist and leader of her own groups, Crispell has performed and recorded extensively with major figures of the international jazz scene. She's also performed and recorded music by contemporary composers Robert Cogan, Pozzi Escot, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Manfred Niehaus and Anthony Davis (including four performances of his opera "X" with the New York City Opera) also working with dancers, poets, film-makers and visual artists, and teaching workshops in improvisation. She has been the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust composition commission.

Marilyn Crispell defines her own music as an approach to improvisation in a very compositional way, following a logical development after the first notes she plays. Her studies in composition and the huge background in music knowledge along with her natural and magnificent music talent give her the intuition enough to find always a wonderful way to compose which always becomes our best way to discover her spirit although she admits she always tries to forget herself  and disappear, but we always feel her very close.

Text by Juan Carlos Romero
Photo courtesy of Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell website
All rights reserved