Zen and the Art of Musical Maintenance | Music | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Zen and the Art of Musical Maintenance 

Gary Peacock

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Another of Peacock's productive affiliations is the one he's cultivated with pianist Marilyn Crispell (another Woodstocker, Crispell was featured in the March 2010 issue of Chronogram). In Crispell's trio, the two played with Motian and cut the stellar ECM albums Nothing ever was, anyway (1997) and Amaryllis (2001) before the drummer's 2011 passing. This year for the label the duo of Peacock and Crispell waxed Azure, a deep, gorgeous set that moves between animated conversation and profound contemplation. "Gary's a really sensitive musician with a great harmonic sense, and he knows how to keep the music simple and not try to fill up all the space by playing too many notes," Crispell says. "But he also knows how to lead, he's very grounded and strong as a player. We'd done tours as a duo [before the recording] and talked about making a duo album, so it was great to finally do this one. I think a huge part of why we work so well together is that we both meditate a lot, which is something we actually do together whenever we we're on tour."

It was Crispell who first told Peacock about Zen Mountain Monastery, the Buddhist center established in Woodstock in 1985, and it's there that Peacock has been doing much of his meditating for the last 14 years. "For a long time, I was convinced I could solve questions by thinking," says Peacock, who resides in a cabin in the Liberty area. "But I decided that wasn't working, and I started sitting again. I've lived alone for 20 years, which is fine. I have no problem with that at all; I have more of opportunities to pay attention to the life going on around me. I get up in the morning, I have my coffee or my tea, and I play."

And after nearly six decades of playing, what is that keeps him doing it? "That's something that's none of my business," says Peacock. "It's not my decision to play. It's something far, far bigger than me. At the same time, though, I have the deepest gratitude to Keith, Jack, and Marilyn. I wouldn't be able to do this music without them."

Thinking back to that very first performance he did, at the high school dance in 1950s Oregon, Peacock recalls the instant the divine light hit him. "It wasn't so much like I was playing the music, but, rather that I was being played by it," he says. "Something just washed over me. It went from the bottom of my toes all the way to the top of my head. I can still feel it now."

Gary Peacock will perform with pianist Niels Lan Doky and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts on November 13 at 7:30pm at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Jalc.org. Somewhere and Azure are out now on ECM Records. Ecmrecords.com.

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