Merella/Melton/Judy/Goodrich: Garage Concr (2003)
The quartet of percussionist Mark Merella, bassist Larry Melton, pianist Ned Judy, and guitarist David Goodrich communicates on a spiritualized level on these two releases from the Snack label. Their music ranges from ethereal to earthy, and it finds sonic haven on both ends of that wide otic spectrum.
The two discs crystallize through the amalgamation of diverse cycles beginning with the Bitches Brew transfusion, broadening into the world music arena, and expanding in scope to encompass the noise jazz phenomenon. Visual images of radiant heat rising from a desert floor flood one’s mind through their transcendental form of communication, regardless of which time zone or time warp they choose to habitat.
Judy concocts the mystic flavoring of tomorrow on synthesizer and the rumblings of yesterday on digital piano. He bridges the gap convincingly, allowing the music to breathe and breed new forms of alien life. Merella blends exotic percussive tones to promote a trance-like ambiance, using Indian/African rhythms to suggest a cosmic state of being. He also contributes to the spatial metaphors through use of short-wave radio signals on “Blackout in Berlin,” where he seemingly is seeking help from a distant galaxy.
Melton is an atypical bassist who abandons the concepts of time when the spaceship is in orbit on Garage Concréte, but he touches down to earth on Dialogues to guide the desert ship through the maze of dunes the band crosses in seeking nirvana. Goodrich appears on only two cuts of Garage Concréte but is onboard for all of Dialogues to stimulate the supernatural spirits dancing mystically to the traditions of exotic cultures.
Merella, Melton, and Judy have been interacting in the creative music arena since 1979, and Goodrich has a long association with them as well. This explains their ability to convey complex musical expressions in such a communicative way. The droning beat and intertwined movements of “Qawwal” are as together as the otherworldly callings melding so seamlessly on “Dante’s Dilemma.” The band glides unerringly from orbiting Saturn to trekking over barren Himalayan peaks. All of the music is instantly composed, although themes of John Coltrane’s work form a foundation for experimentation on “Spontraneous.” Goodrich’s playing is particularly compelling on this cut
These guys expand the concept of world music to take in aural concepts from the other side of the sun, and they do it in a way that seduces the senses. Whereas Garage Concréte seeks light after traveling through a dark hole in the universe, Dialogues elaborates on an ordered, harmonious cosmos identifiable to grounded explorers. In either scenario, the group builds an aesthetically convincing bridge over the varied terrain or firmament they travel.
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Track Listing: Garage Concr
Personnel: Mark Merella-percussion, short-wave radio; Larry Melton-bass, electric bass; Ned Judy-digital piano, synthesizers; David Goodrich-guitar, e-bow, mandocaster, kalimba. Recorded: 2001/2002, Bowie, MD.
Record Label: Snack Records
Style: Modern Jazz