The trio here is Marc Copeland (piano), Joey Baron (drums) and Peacock on bass. All great players – Copeland’s worked as a solo player and in duos, trios, quartets, as leader and as sideman to the likes of John Abercrombie and Billy Hart. Baron has worked across so many styles, again as leader and sideman, whether improvising or reading ballad charts and playing soft and straight he’s got what you needs; he always makes it sound so good. And Peacock, here resplendent, composition feathers puffed and proud – the majority of the original work here is by him, so often he’s blurred and burring in the background, a vital part of a trio (or any combo) always, but very much in that bassist/rhythm section role.
Here we get to hear more of him – and not as bassist soloing. He still sits deep within the role of intuitive bass player, we hear more of him through these compositions. Hearing his hands move across Gaia, the album’s opener, is akin to watching a dancer; he is the dancer – and the dance – in this tune.
Baron’s tune, Espirit de Muse, is a showcase for Peacock, opening with a lengthy solo before deft brush-work and “marker” piano notes from Copeland frame the piece up for Peacock. But he’s never aiming to be the show-stealer, always just playing the notes, playing his role, playing the song.
What works here is that Baron knows how to touch on and around the playing style of Paul Motian, a key player in the Peacock discography. Same with Copeland, he’s able to give colour to pieces in a way that Paul Bley might have, getting close – without copying – to some of the sounds of Keith Jarrett too, the sureness within the delicacy on Shadows, the way certain notes are closed off, gently. Others left to hang, to ring…and then the stateliness of Christa, the elegance across Vignette. All the while it’s the rhythm section hugging the corners, sliding up and down around the curves. It’s wonderful trio playing – but none of it is Big Statement playing.
Peacock is on his way toward his 81st birthday. He’s never sounded better. He’s one of the true masters. There’s not a note out of place here. From him and his bandmates. And this album is lovely.