MARC COPLAND/GARY PEACOCK

"What It Says"

Sketch

"What It Says" softly speaks volumes about the most intimate form of jazz collaboration, the kind that leaves listeners thinking that two, not three, is the charm. Pianist Marc Copland and bassist Gary Peacock are old, knowing hands at this sort of thing, quietly crafting chamber jazz works with an impressionistic, harmonically ambiguous slant. Conventional chord progressions are eschewed in favor of a subtle array of tactics -- thematic motifs, countermelodies, pedal tones, parallel and contrary motion -- that provide structure and sometimes symmetry. Slow to medium tempos dominate, but nothing sounds plodding or overtly plotted here, thanks to the close and seemingly intuitive rapport these musicians have developed over the years.

Copland and Peacock take turns contributing tunes to this collection of mostly duets, and it's not a stretch to label some of the pieces tone poems, beginning with the bassist's lovely ostinato-anchored ballad "Vignette" and the pianist's melodically revolving and harmonically suspended musing "Around in the Air." But don't look to every tune title for obvious clues. Instead of adhering to traditional forms, Copland's "Talkin' Blues" establishes a dialogue with converging and diverging single-note lines. Similarly, the pianist's "Calls & Answers" is an abstraction, a rhapsody etched in blue and tart tones.

And speaking of tones, the sound that Peacock coaxes from his double bass is unusually woody and resonant. So much so, in fact, that when he underpins something Copland is playing with a root note, the sound could fill your living room even with the volume turned down.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Thursday at the Corcoran. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Marc Copland and Gary Peacock, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)