All great artists turn their listeners into voyeurs, allowing them an intimate glimpse into their private thoughts. For pianist Myra Melford the invitation has been a long time coming. After twenty-plus years of recording, Life Carries Me This Way is her first solo session. She has drawn praise for her recent work in the collaborative Trio M with Matt Wilson and Mark Dresser, her quintet Snowy Egret, the electric-acoustic Be Bread, and a duo project Dialogue with Ben Goldberg. Her past associations have included Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Henry Threadgill, and Butch Morris. The eleven solo ...read more
Pianist Myra Melford's first solo disc, Life Carries Me This Way, is a musical exploration the paintings of California visual artist Don Reich. Rendering a painting--an art form that can be taken in at once, with one look--and addressing its moods, colors, shapes and textures over the course of a composition is not a easy task. Though in jazz, it's certainly not unheard of. The connection between abstract art and the improvisation-based music goes back at least to pianist Dave Brubeck's Time Out (Columbia Records, 1959), with its distinctive abstract cover art by painter Neil Fujita. Recording and ...read more
Myra Melford's Snowy Egret Yerba Buena Center for the Arts San Francisco, CA November 8, 2013 Within the intimate confines of the YBCA Forum in the heart of San Francisco's museum district, a gray, out- of-focus video screened a country road. On one platform set directly under the screen, piano, drums, two chairs and two stools were set up in a row, awaiting the arrival of the musicians. A stage directly below held a large, semi-opaque plastic tarpaulin. The evening would unfold the premiere of pianist Myra Melford's fledgling multimedia effort, Language of Dreams . ...read more
Pianist Myra Melford founded this ensemble in 2002, specifically as an outlet for her compositions. She's blessed indeed, because this line up realizes them so beautifully. Her work can be described as pervasively contemplative though never quiet, which in its way is every bit as distinctive as the late Andrew Hill's depth of compositional character.
Melford's not afraid to cover bases either. Her solo free exposition into Moon Bird" is the work of a pianist secure in her instrumental identity. When the piece comes to fruition with the entry of the band, it's clear that every acoustic line-up ...read more
It's been too long since pianist Myra Melford's last release as bandleader, especially as we can now hear what we've been missing. For the second outing by her Be Bread ensemble, the pianist has assembled an all star cast of frequent collaborators. Bassist Stomu Takeishi, guitarist Brandon Ross and trumpeter Cuong Vu are holdovers from the debut disc, here joined by clarinetist Ben Goldberg and Matt Wilson at the traps. Melford herself concentrates solely on piano. Electronics are set aside for an all-acoustic palette, resulting in a high level of cohesiveness across the 65-minute program.
Most of the ...read more
Satoko Fujii / Myra Melford Under the Water Libra 2009 Alex Cline Continuation Cryptogramophone 2009 Andrew Drury My Fingers Will Be Your Tears Cadence Jazz Records 2009 As Myra Melford continues to challenge herself with new ensembles and approaches to composing, the opportunities to hear her as a 'session player' grow rarer. And in fact, the pianist has spent most of her career as a leader, ...read more
The Maybeck Recital Hall has been home to some of the best pianists whose playing resonated not only within the walls of that institution, but into the history of piano music as well. That sounding board came alive once more when Myra Melford and Satoko Fujii performed there on September 14, 2007.
Melford and Fujii have established their own creative niches. Each has her own approach, but there is a commonality in the way they divine the path they are going to take. Much of it is unknown; intuition drives innovation just as vision is dictated by focus. ...read more
Multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich and pianist Myra Melford share more than a virtuosic touch and rugged lyricism. Their work embodies a single-minded approach to duo playing that lends an air of cohesion to the most abstract improvisation, allowing their ideas to blend to the point where Ehrlich's tone becomes a growling, vibrato-laden extension of Melford's sensitive voicings and provocative counterpoints or a serene answer to one of the pianist's jarring exclamations. Spark! opens and closes with Hymn, a bluesy Ehrlich original that has become a mainstay of the duo's repertoire over their decade-plus association. The first take opens ...read more
Fate drew violist/violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch and pianist/harmonium player Myra Melford together at the Canadian 2003 Guelph Jazz Festival. Kalmanovitch could not play with her quartet, and therefore teamed up with Melford. Both women are improvisers who can shape their musical journeys into a compelling portrait from a common thread. Proof positive can be found on Heart Mountainof which all but one of its ninteenn tracks are improvised.
Melford and Kalmanovitch move from well-defined melodies to abstract linear forms, creating interesting little vignettes, brushed in strong color or shaded in deep, dark hues. There is also the use of ...read more
Pianist Myra Melford and violinist/violist Tanya Kalmanovitch have created, in Heart Mountain, a work that demonstrates the highest degree of interaction between players who have the innate ability to create spontaneous music that lives and breathes. There is absolutely no reason why jazz, specifically improvised music, cannot and should not be listened to with the same degree of concentration that is expected of classical music. The music that Melford and Kalmanovitch make is extremely taut and highly transparent, exposing the players' personalities. That this music requires something of the listener only reinforces the fact of its compressed intensity. ...read more
It's getting harder and harder these days to categorize jazz musicians, as Tanya Kalmanovitch and Myra Melford remind us with their new release, Heart Mountain (Perspicacity Records). Both carry heavy credentials in other genres of music: violinist/violist Kalmanovitch holds a bachelors degree from Juilliard, and classically trained pianist Melford traveled to Calcutta on a Fulbright scholarship to study the harmonium. In their work they urge listeners to dispense with such categorization, however, and find the spaces between musical genres, where music really lives, writes Kalmanovitch on her website. Free improvisation is how they occupy those spaces.
Every track ...read more
Heart Mountain is the first duo recording of pianist Myra Melford and violist/violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch. Ajay Heble, artistic director of the 2003 Guelph International Jazz Festival, suggested a duet with Melford when unforeseen circumstances prevented the scheduled performance of Kalmanovitch's quartet. So successful was their unplanned meeting that they decided to reconvene for this 2005 studio effort.
Traveling similar artistic paths, Melford and Kalmanovitch share common interests and academic backgrounds. Melford, one of today's most original pianists and an exceptional bandleader, comes from a classical background with extensive studies in North Indian Music. Kalmanovitch's classical training follows a ...read more
The harmonium is not a native Indian instrument. It was conceived in Europe, but adopted by India in the 19th century, quickly becoming a traditional element in the region's folk, devotional and popular music. Myra Melford studied the instrument in India under a Fulbright Scholarship and, as she writes in the liner notes of this new album, she was waiting to see what would emerge naturally (...) as opposed to trying to make something happen. The Image of Your Body is the collaborative effort of Be Bread, Melford's group with Brandon Ross (electric guitar, banjo and voice), ...read more
Myra Melford augments her to a quartet here with either trumpet or guitar, and the range of the group is augmented in turn by her use of harmonium and the use of electronics by both trumpeter Cuong Vu and bassist Stomu Takeishi. The resulting music is a mixed affair, marked by a certain anonymous quality that often makes its presence felt.
The programme starts promisingly enough with Equal Grace, where the sustenance of a mood shows how well the group with Vu can deal with the matter of dynamics; even in the up-tempo section of the piece, there is a ...read more
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