At the age of 80, bassist Gary Peacock plays, improvises and composes with more vitality than many musicians half his age. On Now This, Peacock, a decades-long member of Keith Jarrett’s trio, leads his own trio with frequent collaborator Marc Copland on piano and agile drummer Joey Baron. The results are characterized by moody, questioning themes and fluid interplay among the participants, despite occasionally fuzzy intonation from the leader.
On the folkish opener “Gaia,” Peacock’s double bass darts into and around the atmospheric textures created by Copland’s chordal flourishes and Baron’s cymbal swells. The pensive “Shadows” centers on the back-and-forth between crystalline piano statements and tumbling bass lines, while on “This,” the trio jells into a chunky but pliable groove. Peacock’s other compositions follow a similar trajectory, with his bass mostly leading the way on the steadily shifting “Moor,” the dark-tinted, prayerful “Requiem” and two other tracks.
Peacock’s colleagues also contribute tunes, including Copland’s floating, dissonance-edged “And Now” and Baron’s playful “Esprit de Muse.” The trio mates slip into something a bit more comfortable for mainstream-jazz listeners on an energetic reading of bassist Scott LaFaro’s “Gloria’s Step,” with nods in the direction of the version played by the Bill Evans Trio. All in all, Now This is a spirited outing from a journeyman player who continues to impress. —Philip Booth