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Roland Kirk died on Dec. 5, 1977.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Album review: Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell - How to Turn the Moon

Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell  (pianos)

“I’ve always kept in mind that it’s not so much the instruments that make the music – It’s the people in the room."   A  quote from Angelica Sanchez on the liner notes to this album.  

This I feel perfectly encapsulates the art of improvisation the understanding and empathy between the players transforms the music into something special. This double piano offering proves the point as the interplay between the protagonists creates a marvellous offering of subtle, fascinating and engaging improvised free jazz. 


Crispell is a generation ahead of Sanchez and has played with such luminaries on the improvised scene as Anthony Braxton, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. Sanchez meanwhile has played with the likes of Wadada Leo Smith and Michael Fromanek.


Of the ten compositions 7 are by Sanchez and the remaining 3 jointly written.


A couple a years ago  I visited the museum of MIT where they had a fascinating exhibition of Ramon y Cajal’s beautiful drawings of the optic lobe of a fly which resemble trees and roots. These drawings are an inspiration for the album. The opening track - The Lobe of the Fly  begins with both pianists playing in a scale-like manner before exploding into an exhilarating tour de force. Ancient Dream sees Sanchez strumming the piano strings as Crispell, adds a percussive effect giving the piece a fairly sombre minimalist feel. 


The highlight of the CD for me is  the longest piece  Ceiba Poral where  Sanchez and Crispell appear to run rings round each other at a fair old lick before it settles down with a calming melodic ending. I was quite taken with how the actual music evokes their titles. Space Junk gives the feeling of being in outer space, whilst Sullivan’s Universe has a quite dreamy feel to it. Rain in the Web is one of the joint compositions and  is the most lively piece a formidable heavy start grows into an exciting whirlwind. The album concludes with the evocative Fire in Space which begins urgently with a recurring theme jointly played before calmly drawing to a close.


A really great album in fact the more I listen to it the better it gets - another great collaboration of musicianship and friendship. 

Steve H.

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