This exceptional piano duo featuring American Myra Melford
and Sydney-based Australian Alister Spence
, known for his local trio and an acclaimed duo with Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald
; (Stepping Behind The Shadows
, Rufus, 2012), was recorded during late 2012 while Melford toured Australia with her Trio M
. The pianist/composers got to know each other through a mutual friend, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii
, who recorded a duo with Melford, Under The Water
, Libra, 2009).
This aptly-titled session was produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for its radio program Jazz Up Late and beautifully captured Melford and Spence improvising on two Steinway D grand pianos. The tracks were not edited or overdubbed, and appear in the order that they were recorded. There was also very little discussion before the recording began, and from the first notes it was clear this was a meeting of like-minded, free and fearless improvisers. Both listen carefully to each other, focused intently on the music as it evolves to expand ideas in an organic and emphatic manner until it becomes impossible to tell the musicians apart.
The beginning of the set is contemplative and lyrical, but already, on the 18 minute long "A Bird Translates," the pair sketch a poetic, multi-layered narrative that expands with playful and dramatic shifts. On "The House of the Fishes" they extend the timbral range, suggesting mysterious resonant and percussive sounds and stress the metallic spectrum of the piano strings to sound like an otherworldly, Gamelan orchestra. That searching vein continues on the minimalist and meditative "Circular Dispersion Of Tones," patiently and gently developing seductive blues lines that later meld into a dense and intense texture.
The concluding title piece perfectly summarizes the spirit of this unique session. Once again, Spence and Melford employ the piano strings to cleverly create a nuanced, enigmatic atmosphere that sound timeless. The sonic universes of these highly original pianists forms an engaging and captivating improvised-story that reverberates long after it is gone.
Beautiful, inspiring, and one of the best releases of 2014.
Why Say dreams Are White?; A Bird Translates; The Houses Of The Fishes;
Circular Dispersion Of Tones; Everything Here Is Possible.
Alister Spence: Steinway D concert grand piano; Myra Melford: Steinway D
concert grand piano.