Home » Jazz Articles » Myra Melford: Life Carries Me This Way

8
Album Review

Myra Melford: Life Carries Me This Way

By

Sign in to view read count
Myra Melford: Life Carries Me This Way
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 entire album based on the paintings of a single artist is also not unique. Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom released, in 2004, her excellent tribute to Jackson Pollack, Chasing Paint (Arabesque Records); and drummer Matt Jorgensen offered up his finest recording to date with Tattooed By Passion (Origin Records, 2010), a nod to the paintings of Dale Chisman.

The album comes with a booklet that includes the paintings that inspired Melford's piano work. Reich had energy and flare in the rendering of his abstract still lifes, bold landscapes, and even some near cartoons. Inspiring visuals that Melford turned into music filled with a supremely confident spontaneity, from the turbulent angularity of "Park Mechanics" through the subdued ruminations of "Red Beach," to playful bursts and percussive ponderings on "Piano Music."

Melford is a rare original voice here—as she proved herself as well on her superb 2010 Trio M Recording (with bassist mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson) Guest House (Enja/Yellowbird Records). If she is unfettered, brimming with the unexpected in the trio format, she takes those strengths further playing solo. She is an artist who can probably be tagged a "Free Player," but she is also one who does not eschew beauty, of the unexpected kind, the type that sneaks up on you and jumps out from around the corner.

"Attic" the painting, is a beautiful, geometric, muted- color pastel; "Attic," the Myra Melford composition is a clipped, densely-layered, geometric examination of the mysteries inside the angles and shadows. "Barcelona," the painting, vertical mish-mash of long, compressed shapes (surreal buildings and street and alleys, perhaps), with a bit of blue sky peaking out from above. "Barcelona," the piano work explores those streets with a sense of discovery and wonder.

Life Carries Me this Way is an oddly gorgeous and uncompromising music. Myra Melford does solo piano with the best of them.

Track Listing

Park Mechanics; Red Beach; Red land (for Don Reich); Piano Music; Japanese Music; Attic; Curtain;Moonless Night; Barcelona; Sagrada Familia; Still Life.

Personnel

Myra Melford: piano.

Album information

Title: Life Carries Me This Way | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz since 1995, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

The Pan American Nutcracker Suite
Joe McCarthy's Afro Bop Alliance Big Band
The Power Station Sessions
The Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band
Sera Niebla
Nicolas Politzer
Xaybu: The Unseen
Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.