Saxophonist turned jazz pianist Marc Copland has been busy recording for a Switzerland based record label. He continues his high level of musicianship with his core trio, along with tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker and guitarist John Abercombie, both performing on selected tracks. Copland possesses a sensitive touch, while also residing as a well-versed swing and bop pianist.
The two reunite for Insight, with Peacock's name first on the marquee, though it's likely nothing more than the egalitarian nature of this duo that his name is first, since Copland's was the lead on What It Says. It's another set of deeply connected music—a mix of Copland and Peacock originals, free improvisations and well-known but instinctively personal covers.
The co-leaders of this date first met back in the 70's, when pianist Marc Copland's instrument of choice was the saxophone. Whereas the teaming of the pianist's trio with sax great Dave Liebman reflects a natural extension of their fairly recent collaboration at the Santa Fe, New Mexico Jazz Festival. With this release, Copeland brings his elegant touch to the forefront, which is a characteristic that intrinsically complements, his partner's lofty excursions on both tenor and soprano saxophones.
Three apprehensive reharmonizations of "My Favorite Things" are a moody thread running through Haunted Heart and Other Ballads by the Marc Copland trio. Against this backdrop, Copland goes on to play with the shadows, casting elating illumination and a kind of cloudy angst in measured proportions. The trio interplay here is on a very high order, the product of a regular weekly gig of some duration to which drummer Jochen Rueckert, a master of temporal texture, is the relative newcomer. Bassist Drew Gress and Copland have been at it for a long time, and cohesion is in evidence at all times. […] Throughout, these are impressive performances that stay with the listener. Haunted Heart and Other Ballads is a wonderful recording. ~Bill Bennett, Jazztimes
…All of the music is taken at a thoughtful pace and is quite lyrical and melodic. Copland often sounds as if he is thinking aloud yet each of his "musical sentences" flows logically into the next one, forming a suite of sorts. The results could be superior background music but, if played at a louder volume, one can really get into Copland's thoughts and ideas. This is thought-provoking music that deserves that close a listen. ~Scott Yanow, allmusic.com
That Peacock should be capable of music with this much dignity should be no surprise; neither should it be especially surprising from Copland who, while a late starter on his chosen instrument, continues to develop a personal approach that combines the best of American and European traditions. What It Says is another fine recording from France’s Sketch Records, a label that is joining a select group of independents with an uncompromising sense of artistry, and a distinctive personality; Copland and Peacock have managed to capture the essence of the material in a programme that is rich in ambience and deep in emotion. ~John Kelman, allaboutjazz.com
This recording, where he shares top billing with veteran trumpeter Randy Brecker, comes as something of a surprise. Copland's approach to harmony is as distinctive and abstract as ever, but in the company of Brecker, bassist Ed Howard and drummer Victor Lewis—two frequent collaborators with great chemistry—he delivers his most swinging set in years.