Gary Peacock Trio ‘Tangents’ (ECM) 3/5

One of the most distinguished bassists alive, and a long-time accompanist of several pianists on the ECM label, from Paul Bley to the lengthy tenure as part of the Keith Jarrett trio, and not forgetting his work with Paul Motion, John Surman and Ralph Towner, with 1960’s recordings with Bill Evans early in his career, Gary Peacock’s first trio album as a leader came surprisingly late in his career in 2015, ‘And Now This’ (ECM), and tied in with the celebration of his eightieth birthday. On this new trio outing the line-up is repeated with Marc Copland on piano and Joey Baron offering fine drum accompaniment.

Peacock as a leader differs markedly from the more conventional trio insofar as individuality is positively encouraged among the three musicians rather than elongated collective performances as with Evans, or more latterly with say Brad Mehldau. This results in a less fluid sound as a whole, though on occasion the trio gel wonderfully and this is where the music works best. An old-school 1960’s feel permeates the blues-inflected ‘Rumblin’, that could almost be a trio variation reading of Ornette Coleman’s opus, ‘Ramblin’, and is equally as compelling, with some lovely percussive work from Baron. Equally, the trio excel in providing a complete reworking of the classic evergreen (no pun intended), ‘Blues in Green’, which here altogether eschews the main theme and instead lengthens out the notes, with an immediate bass solo. The piece is virtually unrecognisable and morphs into an entirely different, but nonetheless interesting creature.

By contrast, the trio operate individually on a number of pieces, as on the lengthy bass intro to the opening number, ‘Contact’, or other compositions such as ‘December Greenwings’ and ‘Empty Forest’, and frankly this writer struggled to identify and empathise with this type of approach. As ever, a warmth of sound for which ECM is rightly famed. The ten page booklet contains a plethora of colour photos and discographical information, but no liner notes.

Tim Stenhouse