“There may be no musician who has resisted safety or stability like Annette Peacock,” The New York Times wrote in 2018, hailing her as “probably the most remarkable—and mercurial—living singer and composer you’ve almost certainly never heard.”
A borderless musician whose idiom wends through jazz, classical, free-flowing poetic folk, and arcane electronic experimentation, Peacock was given a prototype Moog synthesizer by Robert Moog himself in the sixties, and she promptly innovated the already innovative device, rewiring it so she could trigger it with her voice. Her compositions and electronic performances on a string of classic albums by her then-husband, Paul Bley, helped define the ECM Records sound that is now so often used to define other music. And she released singular records under her own name, from the raucous funk and poetry of I’m the One (1972) to her own stately, gorgeous debut on ECM, An Acrobat’s Heart.
Peacock has never been much for the spotlight, even as her rare performances generate international headlines. On the cover of The Wire in 2015, her back was turned to the camera, her profile barely visible. Her sporadic records have often been issued through her own small imprint, ironic. But lately she’s been stepping out to affirm her legacy, making clear, for example, the underpublicized roles she played in Bley’s oeuvre. I’m the One is back on shelves in impressive form thanks to Light in the Attic Records, and Peacock appeared at the Sunn O)))-curated Le Guess Who? festival in 2015. Her renaissance continues in a solo performance for voice, piano, and electronics at Big Ears.