an acrobat's heart

Annette Peacock

CD18,90 out of print

A ravishingly beautiful album by one of the most mysterious, elusive and beguiling figures on the fringes of jazz. "An acrobat’s heart" features the unique vocals and piano playing of singer-songwriter Annette Peacock, performing her own compositions with the acclaimed Cikada String Quartet. If you like An acrobat’s heart, then you’d probably like: Marilyn Crispell, Nothing Ever Was, Anyway Paul Bley, Paul Bley with Gary Peacock Arild Andersen, Hyperborean Bent Sørensen, Birds And Bells Norma Winstone, Somewhere Called Home

Featured Artists Recorded

January & April 2000, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

Original Release Date


  • 1Mia's Proof
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 2Tho
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 3weightless
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 4Over.
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 5as long as now
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 6u slide
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 7b 4 u said
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 8The heart keeps
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 9ways it isn't
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 10Unspoken
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 11Safe
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 12Free the memory
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 13, ever 2 b gotten.
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 14Camille
    (Annette Peacock)
  • 15Lost at Last
    (Annette Peacock)
Jazz magazine, disques d'émoi
The vocalist and composer Annette Peacock is like an avant-garde version of Woody Allen's Zelig: she's been there and done that with all the right people in all the right places for nearly 40 years, yet she somehow remains both impeccably obscure and indecently young-looking. … Like the film Dancer in the Dark, Peacock's An Acrobat's Heart is likely to inspire extreme reactions of either love or hate. … Peacock sings original, decidedly personal songs, whose lovelorn lyrics draw on the conceits of metaphysical poetry, while their style of spelling draws on Prince.
Phil Johnson, The Independent
The unique vocalist-pianist, too long off the scene, has concocted a hypnotically tender and ethereal song cycle, musing on the battlefield/playground of love and life. Her whispy voice floats across a spare landscape, while the Cikada String Quartet and Peacock's own minimalist piano lines vie with poetic silences. Hinting at jazz and chamber music, her private musical language is a bittersweet waking dream of a project, and a welcome return.
Josef Woodward, Entertainment Weekly
Zu erzählen ist von einer Musik, die plötzlich wieder im Raum steht, unvergleichlich. Eine hohe, warme Stimme singt zerbrechliche Lieder, Annette Peacock begleitet sich selbst am Flügel, ein Streichquartett modelliert Klangskulpturen dazu: von der Klassik das Zeitmaß, vom Jazz das Gefühl, von der Lyrik das Offene, vom Träumen die Stimme. … Die »Grandmistress of the avantgarde torch song«, die jetzt in Woodstock lebt, hat sich in überirdische Balladen eingesponnen. Die Stücke erscheinen wie ein musikalischer Bewusstseinsstrom, eine impressionistische Suite über die Formen der Liebe.
Konrad Heidkamp, Die Zeit
Der mährische Komponist Leos Janácek hat seinem zweiten Streichquartett den Titel »Intime Briefe« gegeben. Annette Peacock, deren musikalische Ideen viele Jazzmusiker seit den sechziger Jahren angeregt haben, hat jetzt etwas ähnliches wie Janánek veröffentlicht. An Acrobat's Heart sind intime Gefühle für Streichquartett, Klavier und Gesang, eher monochrom im Duktus, gerade so, als wolle die Sängerin, Pianistin und Komponistin ihre Seelenlage zwar offenbaren, zugleich aber hinter einem gleichbleibend elegischen Tonfall wieder verbergen.
Wolfgang Sandner, FAZ
An Acrobat's Heart ist eine fast bruchlose Folge von Songs, die nur ihrer eigenen Spur folgen, der Entwicklung der verschiedenen Textsequenzen und nicht der plumpen Mechanik von Strophe und Refrain. Annette Peacocks Musik lebt von der Schwebung der wie hingestreuten einzelnen Töne, vom Kontrast zwischen dem Ton und der Stille, die ihm erst Kontur gibt, von der Präzision, mit der sie die verschiedenen Klangebenen verwebt und miteinander zum Schwingen bringt.
Stephan Hentz, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Dass auch im Jazz (Wieder)Entdeckungen möglich sind, zeigt die neue Arbeit der Komponistin und Sängerin Annette Peacock. An Acrobat's Heart, ihr erstes Album seit mehr als einem Jahrzehnt, ist eine Auftragsarbeit für Manfred Eicher, den Klangvisionär. Denn die Idee, die intime Kunst der Peacock mit den Möglichkeiten des Streichquartetts zu assoziieren, bietet sich förmlich an - nur, realisiert hat sie bislang niemand. … Peacocks mit tiefer, fast vibratoloser Stimme vorgetragene Songs, deren changierende Harmonien die Komponistin am Klavier geradezu ertastet und aus der Stille der verklingenden Töne heraushört, und die Klangästhetik des Münchener Labels scheinen wie füreinander gemacht.
Joachim Weis, Hamburger Abendblatt
Annette Peacock's long-awaited debut as a "leader" on ECM (she has always been a presence in the wings, as it were) is an exceptionally beautiful and emotionally involving album. Commissioned by ECM to write music for strings, piano and voice, Peacock has delivered what may be her most personal artistic statement to date. Soul-baring songs form the core of "An acrobat's heart", grown-up and ruthlessly honest songs from the combat zones of relationships, songs of experience and freedom and dependency, pages from a diary. The naked truths of Peacock's texts are set to finely-crafted settings for the Cikada quartet. The compositions, and Annette's own, unembellished piano playing, carry forward the lyrical impulses introduced into jazz when Peacock wrote the book for the Paul Bley Trio more than 30 years ago. And her unique vocal style has grown ever more keen-edged with the years; nobody phrases like her. In brief, this is essential Annette Peacock, a great original at the peak of her powers.

"An acrobat's heart" is the first new Annette Peacock album in more than a decade, although the long silence was broken in part by the release of the Marilyn Crispell Trio's critically-acclaimed Nothing ever was, anyway. Music of Annette Peacock issued by ECM in 1997. Annette guested on one track on that set; England's Avant noted that "On 'Dreams' the composer adds her distinctive vocals (cracked varnish over supple wood) and completely steals the show. The news that she's preparing material for a forthcoming ECM disc is very good indeed". Reactions to "Nothing ever was, anyway" were almost unanimously positive world-wide and the recording was voted Album of the Year in France's Jazzman magazine.

Producer Manfred Eicher first met Annette Peacock almost 35 years ago, after a concert in Montreux, where Paul Bley played her compositions. "I always liked her very personal style of writing, her songs. The simplicity, the clarity, and sometimes I've felt she was right at the essence of expression."

Pre-production for the present disc has extended over, literally, years. Peacock began working on the music in 1996 and was fine-tuning it right up until the eleventh hour. Annette Peacock: "Manfred proposed this string quartet idea which I thought was really intriguing. I told him I'd never written for string quartet, and he said that was fine with him. So I thought 'OK, go for it'. I heard [in my mind] this string quartet which was just pure sound, just bow on string... And I thought...yes!"

When she arrived at Rainbow Studio she was ready, and took instantly to the Steinway piano that ECM maintains there. "It's like a living thing", she told filmmaker Barry Hecker. "You touch it and it responds." In deference to the instrument's history, she plays it with great sensitivity and restraint.

She remains one of the most daring of singers, her choice of notes and her almost vibratoless delivery immediately arresting. (If she were a trumpeter, she'd be Miles or Chet Baker). At the same time her tone is intimate, confessional, conveys a sense of secrets whispered.