Annette Peacock
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Dual Unity (1971), 7/10
Improvisie (1971), 7/10
Revenge (1971), 6/10
I'm The One (1972), 7/10
X-Dreams (1978), 6.5/10
Perfect Release (1979), 6.5/10
Sky-skating (1982), 7.5/10
I Have No Feelings (1986), 7.5/10
Been in the Streets Too Long ,
Abstract-Contact (1988), 7/10
An Acrobat's Heart (2000), 7/10
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One of the first female composers of popular music, a pioneer of rap, live electronic music and synth-pop, Annette Peacock's achievements are monumental.

A New York native, she married jazz bassist Gary Peacock at 19 (in 1960) and was therefore exposed to the bohemian milieu of Greenwich Village's free-jazz lofts. The quintessential hippie, she was introduced to LSD by Timothy Leary in person, collaborated with surrealist painter Salvator Dali, and frequently shocked the establishment with her unconventional and uncompromising attitude.

When she became Paul Bley's partner, she was given a chance to compose, sing and play (one of the first synthesizers, which she received from Robert Moog in person). Her debut as a writer occurred with Cartoon, on Paul Bley's Closer (ESP, 1966), recorded in december 1965 and featuring the trio of Bley (piano), Steve Swallow (bass) and Barry Altschul (drums). Ramblin', recorded in july 1966 by Bley, Mark Levinson (bass) and Altschul, has her Both, Albert's Love Theme and Touching. Blood (Fontana), recorded in september/october 1966 by Bley, Levinson and Altschul, has even more of her compositions: Blood, Albert's Love Theme, El Cordobes, Mr Joy, Kid Dynamite, Nothing Ever Was Anyway. Paul Bley's In Haarlem, recorded in november 1966, contains two compositions and they are both hers: Blood and Mr Joy. Paul Bley's Ballads (ECM, 1971), recorded in 1967, contains three compositions that are all written by Peacock: Ending, Circles and So Hard it Hurts. Two new Peacock compositions debut on Virtuosi, in june 1967: Butterflies and Gary. Ballads (1967) contains the 17-minute Ending and the 12-minute So Hard It Hurts. Turning Point (IAI, 1968) repeats Mr Joy and Kid Dynamite. Paul Bley with Gary Peacock (ECM) repeats Gary and Albert's Love Theme. Bley's and Peacock's Mr Joy (Mercury, 1968) again revolves around those Peacock compositions: Kid Dynamite, Nothing Ever Was Anyway, Blood, El Cordobes, Mr Joy, Touching.

She also became a key member (not only composer) of Bley's ensemble. She was, in fact, one of the very first musicians to use a synthesizer (which was still a very complex machine) and probably the first one to take it on a tour. The Synthesizer Show, as their ensemble was called, recorded several pieces that eventually found their way to several milestone recordings: Revenge (Polydor, 1971), recorded between april and november 1969, which is substantially different because it is divided into a side played by the Bley-Peacock-Altschul trio (Mr Joy, Daddy's Boat, Dream) and a side played by Annette Peacock and her new ensemble (not featuring Bley) which is clearly the beginning of Peacock's solo career, and in which she also does her very first raps (Loss Of Consciousness, The Cynic, I Belong To A World That's Destroying Itself, Climbing Aspirations, I'm The One); Improvisie (America, 1971), recorded in 1970, with Paul Bley on synthesizer, Annette Peacock on vocals and piano, Han Bennink on percussion (which contains two lengthy improvisations, the 16-minute Improvisie and a 24-minute version of Touching); Dual Unity (Freedom, 1971), featuring Paul Bley on synthesizer and piano, Annette Peacock on bass, piano and vocals, Han Bennink on drums (Richter Scale being the most representative and loudest of the four tracks, and the 17-minute MJ being the n-th version of Mr Joy); and The Paul Bley Synthesizer Show (Milestone, 1971), recorded between december 1970 and march 1971, that does not feature Peacock anymore, but features an all-Peacock program (Mr Joy, The Archangel, Nothing Ever Was Anyway, Gary, Snakes, Parks, Circles).

Peacock compositions would continue to appear on Bley's albums. For example, Bley's classic solo piano album Open To Love (ECM, 1972) is titled after Peacock's Open To Love.

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Peacock's first solo album, I'm The One (RCA, 1972), offers blues ballads that are transfigured by dark and intimate premonitions.
The ensemble (Tom Cosgrove on guitar, Stu Woods on bass, Rick Morotta on drums and Peacock on keyboards) is augmented with jazz luminaries such as Michael Moss on tenor sax, Barry Altschul on percussion and Airto Moreira on percussion. The players introduce themselves in the brief free jam that opens I'm the One, before Peacock intones the first of her torch blues ballads (Michael Garson on piano and organ). These are formidable exercises of self-contrition in which Peacock's voice 7 Days, Been & Gone, Blood (Paul Bley on synthesizer and piano, Glen Moore on bass), reaches shamanic degrees of intensity. Bley's keyboards provide a discrete but disorienting countercurrent to Peacock's tormented stream of consciousness.
If the vocalist's performance is virtuoso, the arrangements engage her shizoid psyche with endless stylistic metamorphoses, from the funky rave-up of Pony (that enhances her dilated melisma) to the funereal fanfare of One Way (Garson on organ, and her best impersonation of Janis Joplin) to the guitar shuffle of Gesture Without Plot (Paul Bley on synthesizer and piano).
Il primo album solista, I'm The One (RCA, 1972), e` una raccolta di ballate blues trasfigurate all'insegna della drammaticita` piu` cupa e tesa, prima fra tutte la title-track. Con accenti che lambiscono la gelida disperazione di Nico e l'intero apparato erotico/animalesco del canto nero, Peacock conia uno stile confessionale schizoide e lancinante. Gli effetti elettronici sono sparsi a piene mani nelle parti strumentali ed aumentano il senso di smarrimento. I ritmi lievemente funky di Pony, le dissonanze fluttuanti di Gesture Without Plot (Paul Bley on synthesizer and piano), e il tribalismo africano di One Way (Garson on organ) non fanno che esasperare il carattere invasato e sciamanico dei suoi deliri. L'album, fondendo canto e sintetizzatore, compie una rivoluzione copernicana, che influenzera` Brian Eno.
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Lasciato Bley ed entrata nell'entourage di Brian Eno, Peacock gira l'Europa senza riuscire a trovare un nuovo contratto. Quando finalmente vede la luce X-Dreams (Tomato, 1978), le composizioni annoverano collaboratori del calibro di Chris Spedding, Bill Bruford e altri veterani di Canterbury. In brani come This Feeling Within, Real And Defined Androgens, Too Much In The Skies, Questions, trova forma definitiva la sua raffinata forma-ballata jazz-rock. Il funky rap di My Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook e la fanfara bluesy di Dear Bela affrontano anche altri generi. Abbandonati i filtri elettronici, Peacock canta con voce plastica e sensuale, che raramente si innalza negli scat e negli shout del vocalismo nero, ma si mantiene invece in un tono colloquiale di modulazioni gutturali su un sound strumentale a meta` strada fra il piu` languido lounge-jazz e il piu` liquido jazz-rock dei Weather Report, a cui si aggiungono percussioni caraibiche. E` uno stile che si ispira al rap (uno stile che a sua volta aveva contribuito a inventare nel 1969). I temi sono quasi sempre erotici, in un modo che quasi nessuno aveva mai esplorato. Rispetto agli altri suoi album e` di gran lunga il piu` accessibile.

Nello stesso anno Peacock trionfa come vocalist spericolata e invasata sul primo album solista di Bill Bruford, Feels Good To Me.

Perfect Release (Tomato, 1979) continued in the lively, tuneful jazz-rock vein of the previous album with Love's Out To Lunch, Solar Systems and Rubber Hunger. The bluesier American Sport, one of her most celebrated political statements, and the syncopated, Caribbean and funky A Loss Of Consciousness, proved that Peacock knew no stylistic boundaries. The sermon-suite Survival grafted rap onto that jazz-funk-blues-rock fusion. Its extended jamming, though, detracts a bit from the emotional power of Peacock's music.

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Le ballate di Sky-skating (Ironic, 1982), composte fra il 1972 e il 1978, a tu per tu con l'accompagnamento di synth o piano (suona lei tutti gli strumenti), mettono a frutto questi esperimenti, coniando in Taking It As It Comes e in Rap With The Trees una forma astratta di canzone sottovoce, soave e fatalista, eterea e sensuale In Sky-Skating questo genere di canto spontaneo si sposa persino a un ritmo meccanico da ballo e a tastiere barocche. La seconda parte e` dedicata a una serie di testi recitati e canticchiati su un accompagnamento altrettanto libero di pianoforte. Peacock cambia registro e tono di voce fra un verso e l'altro (Nothing Outside Us, The Outness Queens Travelling Theme, Warmer Than Gold), e talvolta sovrappone il proprio canto o lo usa come eco (So Close Is Still Too Far), dando l'impressione di un colloquio a piu` voci. In questi testi Peacock esplora in maniera esplicita i turbamenti amorosi del suo animo (Trust), con un linguaggio colto che ricorda i poemi di Wallace Stevens. E` un lento, desolato deliquio nel vuoto che va a spegnersi nella disillusione e nel sarcasmo piu` agghiaccianti (Pride). Il livello di intimita` e` quasi imbarazzante (dall'invito di Take Your Shoes Off alla promessa di Until Untrust Unties). E la sensualita` e` dirompente.

Been in the Streets Too Long (Ironic, 1983) collects unreleased recordings of the last decade: a handful of piano and voice ballads (Been In The Streets Too Long, A Song To Separate, Pillow-Lined Prison), her own versions of some old classics (So Hard It Hurts, Both), and new compositions (No Winning-No Losing, 1/2 Broken, and Safe Inside The Fantasy, a duet between Peacock on piano/vocals and Even Parker on saxophone).

The lonely lieder of I Have No Feelings (Ironic, 1986) represent another peak of her solipsistic art. Her vocal style is purer than ever, less emotional and more conceptual, less linear and less communicative, more ethereal and more introverted. Each song is more a state of mind than a message. She uses her vocals in the convoluted, acrobatic fashion of progressive-rock, with minimal, sparse, dischordant accompaniment (Sincereless, Nothing Ever Was, The Cynic), a technique that leads to the austere, stately forms of Butterflies and You've Left Me, overflowing with pain and angst. Peacock plays everything by herself, and her piano-based scores create oppressive, almost claustrophobic, atmospheres even when the object is a traditional pop melody (I Have No Feelings), thus disorienting the listener at more than one level.
The grave coldness that permeates the majority of the album is slightly tempered by the casual tone of I'm Not Perfect, by the serene meditation of The Carousel, by the enchanted vision of This Almost Spring by the childish blues of The Feeling's Free, which may signify the achievement of an inner balance in the face of disillusionment. A Personal Revolution and Not Enough end the album on a political, sarcastic note, as if trying to turn her personal experience into a universal condition.

The brainy blues/raps of Abstract-Contact (Ironic, 1988), performed by an unusually orthodox trio (keyboards, bass and drums) and propelled by dance rhythms, shift the center of mass towards a subdued and sensual philosophizing which is both cold and reserved, erudite and aristocratic. In other words, the format is more conventional, but the message is more eccentric than ever.
The ethereal melisma of Lost In Your Speed floats over a slightly limping Brazilian beat. She raps calmly in the 13-minute jam Elect Yourself, propelled by a louder, stronger, funkier beat. Jazzy piano figures pop up from behind the rhythmic foam and pregressively move to the forefront, riding the crest of the surf, fractured and dissonant, embodying the anger and the epos of the sermon. The following rap, We Are A Adnate, keeps the Afro-funk rhythm but hardly adds anything else until the end, when weightess melodic electronics and a tenuous piano refrain take over the vocals. These two lengthy tracks indulge in the futuristic fusion that she has been experimenting for 30 years.
A more upbeat mood surfaces in Disparate X's, a soulful ballad that Peacock's elegant contralto wrap into solemn empathy. Peacock also returns to a jazzier sound with Down In Blue). The joyful Happy With My Hand (an ode to masturbation) is emblematic of how she can take the most trivial subject and turn it into a metaphysical topic.
The CD reissue also includes a track from Been In The Streets Too Long (No Winning No Losing), a track from Sky (Until Untrust Unties) and a track from I Have No Feeling (This Almost Spring).

She had also formed a band called I Belong to a World that's Destroying Itself, which in 1987 had toured Europe. Peacock also performed with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. But, during the 1990s, Peacock was surprisingly absent from the music scene, despite her growing reputation. Paul Bley, Franz Koglmann, Gary Peacock recorded some of her early compositions on Annette (Hat Art, 1992). Jazz greats Marilyn Crispell, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian play her music on Nothing Ever Was Anyway (ECM, 1997).

Coming after a 12-year hiatus, An Acrobat's Heart (ECM, 2000), which features a string quartet and no rhythm section, is another impressive achievement, this time in the realm of chamber music. These slow, melancholy, subdued love ballads hark back to the austere music of I Have No Feelings. The medium is the message: Peacock surrenders the immense vitality that propelled her early life and enters an ephemeral realm of delicate, intimate feelings. Even her voice has changed, becoming a simpler, gentler instrument, stretching over several beats like a breeze.
The stream of consciousness of Mia's Proof, Camille and The Heart Keeps creates a suspended atmosphere, halfway between that of Gregorian chants and that of Schoenberg's lieder. At times brainy and hermetic (Safe, Free the Memory), at times soulful and elegant (Over, Ways It Isn't) the music maintains the grave tone that belongs to a life's reexamination.
Tho and U Slide employ more conventional melodies (that might well be show tunes) to deliver an intimate blues over sparse piano or string notes.
Despite the ostensible simplicity, Peacock's superb arrangement skills are evident in the way strings and piano mourn the skeletal, funereal lullabies of Weightless and As Long As Now, and in the bleak instrumental tracks Unspoken and Lost At Last.

Been in the Streets Too Long (Ironic, 1983) raccoglie registrazioni inedite dell'ultimo decennio.

I blues/rap cerebrali di Abstract-Contact (Ironic, 1988), eseguiti da un trio insolitamente classico (tastiere, basso e batteria) e accompagnati da ritmi da ballo, spostano il baricentro verso un filosofeggiare dimesso e sinuoso, freddo e riservato, dotto e aristocratico. In altre parole, se il formato e` piu` convenzionale, il messaggio e` piu` eccentrico che mai.


(Translation by/ Tradotto da Federico Morganti)

Tra le prime compositrici di musica pop, pioniera del rap, della musica elettronica dal vivo e del synth-pop, le conquiste di Peacock sono monumentali.

Annette Coleman, nata a New York, sposò il bassista Gary Peacock all’età di 19 anni (nel 1960) e fu perciò esposta al milieu bohemien degli ambienti free-jazz del Greenwich Village. Essenzialmente una hippie – fu introdotta al LSD da Timothy Leary in persona – collaborò con il pittore surrealista Salvador Dalì, sconcertando sovente l’establishment con le sue attitudini non convenzionali e prive di compromessi. Quando lasciò Peacock per un altro musicista jazz, Paul Bley (che sposò nel 1966), ebbe la chance di comporre, cantare e suonare (uno dei primi sintetizzatori, che ricevette da Robert Moog in persona). Il suo debutto come autrice avvenne con Cartoon, su un disco di Paul Bley intitolato Closer (ESP, 1966), registrato nel dicembre del 1965, col trio composto da Bley (piano), Steve Swallow (basso) e Altschul, che includeva i suoi Both, Albert’s Love Theme e Touching. Blood (Fontana), registrato nel settembre/ottobre del 1966 da Bley, Levinson e Altschul, conteneva un numero perfino maggiore di sue composizioni: Blood, Albert's Love Theme, El Cordobes, Mr Joy, Kid Dynamite, Nothing Ever Was Anyway. In Haarlem di Paul Bley, registrato nel novembre del 1966, include due composizioni entrambe sue: Blood e Mr Joy. Ballad (ECM, 1971), sempre di Bley, registrato nel 1967, contiene tre composizioni tutte scritte da Peacock: Ending, Circles e So Hard it Hurts. Turning Point (IAI, 1968) ripropone Mr Joy e Kid Dynamite. Paul Bley with Gary Peacock (ECM) ripresenta Gary e Albert's Love Them. Mr Joy (Mercury, 1968), di Bley e Peacock, orbita nuovamente attorno alle composizioni di quest’ultima: Kid Dynamite, Nothing Ever Was Anyway, Blood, El Cordobes, Mr Joy, Touching.

Fu anche componente chiave (non soltanto compositore) dell’ensemble di Bley. Fu infatti tra i primi musicisti ad adoperare un sintetizzatore (considerato ancora una macchina piuttosto complessa) e probabilmente la prima a portarlo in tour. Il Synthesizer Show, come fu chiamato il gruppo, registrò diversi pezzi che trovarono infine spazio su diverse pietre miliari: Revenge (Polydor, 1971), registrato tra l’aprile e il novembre del 1969, strutturato sostanzialmente in due parti, una suonata dal trio Bley-Peacock-Altschul (Mr Joy, Daddy's Boat, Dream) e l’altra suonata da Annette Peacock e il suo nuovo ensemble (senza Bley) che è di fatto l’inizio della carriera solistica di Peacock, in cui esegue tra l’altro i primi rap (Loss Of Consciousness, The Cynic, I Belong To A World That's Destroying Itself, Climbing Aspirations, I'm The One); Improvisie (America, 1971), registrato nel 1970 con Paul Bley al sintetizzatore, Annette Peacock alla voce e al piano, Han Bennink alle percussioni (che contiene due lunghe improvvisazioni, una da 16 minuti, Improvisie, e l’altra una versione da 24 minuti di Touching).

Le composizioni di Peacock sarebbero continuate ad apparire negli album di Bley. Ad esempio, il classico album per solo piano di Bley, Open To Love (ECM, 1972), prende il nome da Open To Love della stessa Peacock.

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