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 space; they leave some of their explorations open, treading an unhurried path as they do on "Anthracite, where the build-up is slow and would have been portentous were it not for the logical sequence of sound. The two also find a resplendent nook in "Heart Mountain. Kalmanovitch plays the deep song swirling in melody as she shapes it with quick swaths and then lingers on the strings, savoring the melody. Melford lets notes ripple into the windows opened by Kalmanovitch.
The composed tune "Kailash never strays far from the melody. Kalmanovitch lets it hold sway, bringing in a timbral richness, with Melford content to pirouette below the violin. Along with "Kaligandhaki, "Kailash is one of the highlights of the album in the context of free exploration. In the latter song, Kalmanovitch bows short phrases, Melford lets fleet clutches loose. The tempo changes as the two circle each other and then clasp lines. The shifts are fleet and unpredictable, yet the whole is cohesive.
Melford and Kalmanovitch hold enough attention across the paths they forge to make this an appealing journey.
Cave and Basin; Three Sisters; Medicine Lake; Pika; Sulphur; Hoodoo; Babel; Kaligandhaki; Indefatigable; Into a Gunnysack and into the Kootenay River; The Kid on the Mountain; Athabasca; Annapurna; Daulaghiri; Wapama; Tueeulala; Anthracite; Heart Mountain; Kailash.