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Myra Melford: Above Blue / The Same River, Twice

Robert Spencer By

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Myra Melford's piano is a welter of extraordinary activity, although unlike some other players with her power, even when her playing is at its most furious it always seems to be melodically, not percussively, rooted. She is once again surrounded on this disc by cutting-edge modern jazz players, especially trumpeter Dave Douglas and reedman Chris Speed. Erik Friedlander's cello, in conjunction with the drums of Michael Sarin, lends a lightness to the rhythm. This group navigates Melford's rhythmically tenuous and complex ensemble passages with notable aplomb.

The music is always excellent, albeit somewhat hard to classify: Melford draws from the spectrum of the jazz tradition to create something utterly new. Its emotional range is breathtaking and the virtuosity of the performers is tremendous. Just to take one track as an example, "A White Flower Grows in the Darkness" is full of stops and starts, dynamic variations, emotional modulations, musical resonances ranging from the Orient to Monk, and much much more. What's most impressive is how finely crafted this music is, while at the same time leaving so much space for each instrumentalist to display his creativity to the utmost.

Recommended.


Personnel:

Myra Melford, p; Dave Douglas, tpt; Chris Speed, ts, cl; Erik Friedlander, cel; Michael Sarin, d.

Track listing: Two But Live / A White Flower Grows in the Quietness / Yet Can Spring (for Don Pullen) / Here is Only Moment / Above Blue / Be Melting Snow / Through Storm's Embrace / Still in After's Shadow.

Title: Above Blue / The Same River, Twice | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Arabesque Jazz

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