Marc Copland & Gary Peacock: Blue in Green
Recorded: Munich, May 2005 and October 2007
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
In a more discerning universe, Marc Copland would be far better known. I first encountered his music in the mid-1980s, when an acquaintance sent me an amateur tape of a NY club gig by the pianist. I was deeply impressed then, and expected a grand career from this artist. Copland has not disappointed me—his music-making has repeatedly lived up to the highest expectations—however the jazz audience has surprised me by not embracing his bracing pianism. Copland has recorded extensively, invariably drawing on the finest collaborators, and has proven again and again that his own playing is at the same world class level as his better known associates. Yet, despite his considerable musical achievements, Marc's name recognition, outside of a small, knowledgeable inner circle of musicians and admirers, is modest.
One cannot say the same for his music, which is probing and provocative, more a dissection of compositional structures than the usual tributes at the shrine of the American songbook. Here Copland and Peacock take a very familiar jazz tune, already burned into our collective consciousness in definitive performances by the standard-bearers of the art form, and manage to stretch it into limber, new shapes. The duo adopt such an elongated sense of time, that the pulse is more an occasional reminder of the beat rather than a constant timekeeping. Copland doesn't so much reharmonize the song as impose new chordal structures on top of the old ones, which exist concurrently. His solo structure has plenty of drama, but no false bravado, and some of the strongest effects come through the juxtaposition of silence rather than the assertion of sound. Peacock, for his part, plays with a zen sureness that is centering even as it adds to the deconstructive spirit of the date. The result is that charming exception: a cover version that somehow manages to sound like its own original.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia