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My first exposure to pianist Myra Melford some years ago led me to believe she was a European jazz artist. Her Western European classical approach to the avant-garde keyboard was closer to Misha Mengelberg than Herbie Nichols. Recently, I learned she was born outside of Chicago and upon hearing her latest trio, Crush, I reinterpreted her percussive attack as US Grade “A” creative music. That is, if you can still credit jazz today as an American art form. Crush consists of Melford on piano and harmonium (an Indian/Pakistani pump organ), Kenny Wollesen (Sex Mob, New Klezmer Trio, Junk Genius, Tom Waits, John Zorn) on drums and Stomu Takeishi (Henry Threadgill, Erik Freidlander’s Topaz) on electric and acoustic bass. Her music is a challenging, sometimes-melancholy affair without a hint of sentimentality. The complex arrangements for her quintet, Same River Twice, are often thick and take patient repeated listens to deal with. In a trio setting, clarity isn’t superceded by her message. At first take, this is powerful cerebral material. Further explorations and the emotion of her purpose surfaces. Melford doesn’t tell us a story in sense of “who, what, when, where, why,” she speaks a poetry where one must sync up to her pace and rhythm. Often utilizing an Eastern and Eastern European dictionary mixed with piano jazz, Melford finds the secret place in your heart.
Track List:Like Rain Whispers Mist; Dance Beyond The Color; Vena Cava; Orange; Equal Grace; Yellow Are Crowds Of Flowers, II; Chalk Sanskrit; Always Chant Could One; In Memoriam;
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.