Myriam Alter: If (2003)
Myriam Alter's latest album is attractive; like radiant sunshine through a winter window, it pulls you gently closer with nuance and charm, then seduces with intelligence, style, and grace. Following the blueprint of her earlier albums, Alter has once again written all of the compositions here. Instead of playing on the album herself, she chose to be content with composing and left the realization of the pieces in the very capable hands of others.
The album begins with the dark whispers of Dino Saluzzi's bandoneon followed by the sensitive interplay of the rest of the band. The combination of instruments is exquisite; the bandoneon and clarinet both possess dark wooden voices that ruminate upon each theme with singularity, while the piano and acoustic bass cast light and dark asides into a harmony of shadows. Joey Baron plays his drums with such feeling and vulnerability on these songs; he shapes the music like a great dancer that charges the air around them.
Alter's compositions carry a sense of Andalusian memories, Tango Nuevo, and modern jazz that brings to mind an overall Sephardic feel to the songs. Flowing clarinet melodies bump against hints of bandoneon tango fused with surging jazz explorations on bass and drums, and everywhere is the warmth of sunlight and soft sands.
If is Alter's fourth album to date, and like her Silent Walk album and the beautiful Alter Ego she pursues her muse in a most compelling way. In her music one can forget about form and the shape of solosinstead, explore the feelings, memories, and lost moments of your life that this music conjures. "I Think of You" is traveling music for when you have nowhere left to go, but still you move on through the deserts of your heart and mind, content in the simple sensation of putting one sandal in front of the other.
Her compositions have an ungraspable quality that is terribly seducing. Singing melodies dancing in a dusty road are suddenly brushed gently away and replaced with chiaroscuro shadows from the side of the road, then another singing melody appears from the depths and joins the shadows in an evolving dance of life.
With this recording Ms. Alter continues to delve into the riches of her spirit. She is an important voice in the world of modern jazzshe is exploring new territory, and that should be of interest to anyone traveling the modern road of jazz composition.
Track Listing: Waking Up; Home; If; I Think of It; It's all there; Children play; An intrigant melody; Moving somewhere; You should stay; Where you belong
Personnel: Dino Saluzzi-bandoneon; John Ruocco-clarinet; Kenny Werner-piano; Greg Cohen-bass; Joey Baron-drums;