Baltimore-raised pianist Marilyn Crispell, a baroque-classical student who jumped ship after hearing John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, went on to become an intelligent and resourceful keyboard partner (over 15 years) for that uncompromising radical Anthony Braxton. In recent times, she has become more reflective - like a more abstract Bill Evans - and Nordic ambient-jazz influences (one of the tracks here is simply called Sweden) have gradually displaced her ferocious intensity. This set of 17 pieces - seven of them entitled Vignettes - is the pianist's debut as an unaccompanied soloist for ECM. There are hints of Paul Bley's lyrical precision and Jarrett's song motifs in this private, slow-moving, but exquisitely articulated, dreamscape. The melodies often bloom, Bley-like, in short motifs on to which asides fall and accumulate, and though there are a few jagged, more intense pieces (such as the hurtling Axis), most of the episodes are meditative. The minimal, treble-note caresses of the three-minute Little Song for My Father is a quiet but momentous testament to the eloquence of music.
John Fordham is the Guardian's main jazz critic. He has written several books on the subject, reported on it for publications including Time Out, Sounds, Wire and Word, and contributed to documentaries for radio and TV. He is a former editor of Time Out, City Limits and Jazz UK, and regularly contributes to BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3