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When pianist Crispell and bassist Peacock collaborated with the late drummer Paul Motian on two ECM sessions around the millennium, the New York Times called them 'two of the most beautiful piano-trio records in recent memory'. Even without Motian, the evidence for that judgment is plain in these tracks. Crispell was an unruly free-jazz keyboard cyclone for years, but now combines that command in dizzyingly open situations with delicacy and patience; Peacock, a deep-rooted standard-songs player (he remains a cornerstone of Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio), has a voluminous vocabulary that doesn't desert him at the point when song structures dissolve (they're both meditating Buddhists, which maybe helps). Peacock (sounding more precise than on recent Jarrett recordings) sprints and crash-stops with Crispell's blurted melody on Patterns, ushers her around slow bends on the lilting Goodbye, and helps her devise what could be a ballet accompaniment on the all-improv Leapfrog.
John Fordham, The Guardian

Ein Duo verlangt die Fähigkeit zur Zwiesprache. Diese Fähigkeit leben die Duopartner Marilyn Crispell und Gary Peacock vorbildlich aus. Im Verbund mit dem unlängst verstorbenen Schlagzeuger Paul Motian haben die Pianistin und der Kontrabassist bereits den Klassiker ‚Amarillys’ eingespielt, nun breiten sie vorzugsweise lyrisch-abstrakte Stimmungen aus. Stimmungen, die sowohl Raum für Soloausflüge als auch für Hand-in-Hand-Gänge lassen. Zu einem soliden Preis erhält man demnach eine unvergleichliche Duo-Session sowie zwei umfangreiche Einzelporträts profilierter Einzelgänger. Während Crispell sparsam wogende Akkorde ausstreut, über einen äusserst filigranen und eher sanften Anschlag verfügt, wirkt Peacock, wenngleich 78 Jahre alt, sehr agil: er treibt voran, findet Kammern und Winkel, die allzeit der Abwege lohnen. Ein schlanker Ton zeichnet sein Spiel aus, ein stets relevanter Nachklang, eine Virtuosität, die nie ausgestellt daherkommt. Eine Zwiesprache von profunder Brillanz kommt da wie von selbst zustande.
Adam Olschewski, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

The duo opens with Crispell's aptly named ‘Patterns’, its series of knotty thematic constructs played with temporal flexibility by the pianist (in impressive unison, with both hands), acting as a foundation for some jerky interactions with Peacock, but four songs later her ‘Waltz After Dave M’ explores melody in a most personal way; more clearly structured, it shows Crispell and Peacock at their most eminently lyrical and unashamedly beautiful. Peacock's tone is warmer than usual, and on his abstract ‘Puppets’, he delivers a rare arco solo, reaching for the outer edges and pushing through them to a more rarefied space; still, as esoteric as his playing might seem, there's always an inner logic and unerring focus. Peacock returns to pizzicato on the closing title track, one of three completely free improvisations. Paradoxical in its combination of hovering stasis and forward motion, it feels both as structured and thoroughly open as all of ‘Azure's eleven tracks. A long time coming, ‘Azure’ demonstrates, with pristine clarity and utter transparency, a unique partnership now finally unveiled for a larger audience on the year's most superb—and revealing—duo recording.
John Kelman, All About Jazz

Recorded in upstate New York, where they both live, it’s a conversational study with an implied commitment to parity: it features the same number of compositions by each player, along with a few spontaneous inventions. The results are often starkly beautiful, with the sort of contemplative glow that only maturity seems to provide.
Nate Chinen, The New York Times

Musically, most of these performances involve a significant departure from any attention to a tonal center. This is not a matter of harmonic ambiguity, nor does it involve the bursts of clusters distributed over an instrument’s gamut according to some stochastic principle (as might be found in many of the piano solos of Cecil Taylor) or the sort of over-determined application of serial methods that one might encounter in the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Many of the selections involve a far more lyrical approach to atonality, perhaps deliberately tweaking those who have studied too much music theory to admit of the possibility that atonal music can be lyrical. On the other hand the ostinato chord progressions of ‘Lullaby’, above which both Peacock and Crispell weave melodic lines, could have come from one of Erik Satie’s more mystical piano compositions.
Hopefully, this will be sufficient to convince the reader that this is not a recording of more-of-the-same tracks. Whether the method involves specific composition or spontaneous improvisation, there is considerable diversity across the album, even if the overall rhetoric is one of subdued introspection. This is one of the most convincing cases now available for the precept that jazz is ‘chamber music by other means’, a principle that, as I have previously observed, guided much of Motian’s approach to making music.
Stephen Smoliar, Examiner.com

Choisi par Manfred Eicher (producteurnaguère contrebassite) et les deux artistes avec leur accord, le morceau d’ouverture, le bien nommé ‘Patterns’, s’offre en un arpège èlèmentaire et prometteur. Formule plusieurs fois répétée (facilement mémorisable), il semble èquivaloir, par sa non-signifiance, sa simplicité et son efficacité de tremplin, à la fonction d’un mantra. Et la succession des onze plages ne va pas rompre le charme – ‘une manière, écrit Camus dans ‘La Chute’, de s’entendre répondre oui, sans avoir posé aucune question claire.’ [...] Ici, rien de mécanique ni gimmicks ni effets de virtuosité gratuite, mais en évitant les pièges, écueils et tentations de la sensiblerie ou du tape_à l’ouie à notre sereine délectation, quels que soient la vitesse (plutôt que le tempo) ou le climat, un éventail inesperé de phases et variations d’une exquise méditation contrapuntique incluant deux brèves parenthèses en solo qui n’altèrent en rien L’impression d’une incatation quasi extatique.
Philippe Carles, JazzMagazine

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