Born: March 30, 1947 Primary Instrument: Piano
Marilyn Crispell is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied classical piano and composition, and has been a resident of Woodstock, New York since 1977 when she came to study and teach at the Creative Music Studio. She discovered jazz through the music of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and other contemporary jazz players and composers. For ten years she was a member of the Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble and has been a member of the Barry Guy New Orchestra and guest with his London Jazz Composers Orchestra, as well as a member of the Henry Grimes Trio, Quartet Noir (with Urs Leimgruber, Fritz Hauser and Joelle Leandre), and Anders Jormin's Bortom Quintet. In 2005 she performed and recorded with the NOW Orchestra in Vancouver, Canada and in 2006 she will be co-director of the Vancouver Creative Music Institute and a faculty member at the Banff Centre International Workshop in Jazz.
Besides working as a soloist and leader of her own groups, Crispell has performed and recorded extensively with well-known players on the American and international jazz scene. She's also performed and recorded music by contemporary composers Robert Cogan, Pozzi Escot, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Manfred Niehaus and Anthony Davis (including four performances of his opera X with the New York City Opera).
In addition to playing, she has taught improvisation workshops and given lecture/demonstrations at universities and art centers in the U.S., Europe, Canada and New Zealand, and has collaborated with videographers, filmmakers, dancers and poets.
Crispell has been the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship grants (1988-1989, 1994-1995 and 2006-2007), a Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust composition commission (1988-1989), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005-2006). In 1996 she was given an Outstanding Alumni Award by the New England Conservatory, and in 2004, was cited as being one of their 100 most outstanding alumni of the past 100 years.
Ms Crispell has created a rich personal expression that is breathtaking in its originality and visceral energy. --Amy Duncan, Christian Science Monitor
seeing and hearing Crispell play live is a stunning experience.... a passionate motivation that approaches shamanistic spirituality. labyrinthine structures held together by a deeply personal logic one of the most technically brilliant, imaginative and impassioned contemporary musicians now expanding the expressive potential of the piano. --Derk Richardson, The East Bay Express (CA)
Her improvisational approach is so personal, so explosive and so devastating that it makes jazz (and most other music) sound like the archaic language of an ancient people. There's also a gentle side that makes even simple melodies seem radiantly beautiful. --Larry Kelp, San Francisco Express
one of today's most creative players an uncompromising artist who combines spiritual yearning with impassioned attack to create music that transforms the mundane into the ecstatic --Dan Shimp, Crosswinds (Santa Fe, NM)
For two decades, Marilyn Crispell has been one of the most highly regarded pianists at the sharp end of contemporary jazz. --John Fordham, The Guardian (London, England)
one of the most creative forces on the jazz piano --L.A. Kantner, The Times (Berkeley, CA)
an introspective improviser almost without parallel --Jazziz Magazine
one of the reigning keyboard players in new music Bob Blumenthal, The Boston Globe
the heart of persevering in a world of increasingly chilling effect on the human spirit --Kevin Lynch, The Capital Times Wisconsin State Journal
Crispell is one of the greatest, most profound virtuosos of our time. --Sakari Karttunen, Kaleva (Tampere, Finland)