480

Myra Melford's Be Bread: The Whole Tree Gone

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Myra Melford's Be Bread: The Whole Tree Gone It's been too long since pianist Myra Melford's last release as bandleader, especially as we can now hear what we've been missing. For the second outing by her Be Bread ensemble, the pianist has assembled an all star cast of frequent collaborators. Bassist Stomu Takeishi, guitarist Brandon Ross and trumpeter Cuong Vu are holdovers from the debut disc, here joined by clarinetist Ben Goldberg and Matt Wilson at the traps. Melford herself concentrates solely on piano. Electronics are set aside for an all-acoustic palette, resulting in a high level of cohesiveness across the 65-minute program.

Most of the eight original pieces were written as part of a suite in the fall of 2004, with support of a Chamber Music America grant. All have been performed many times over the last five years in a variety of settings. Such familiarity makes for a committed and potent ensemble performance of music which satisfies both the head and the heart with its switchback arrangements, well integrated solo space and emotionally ambiguous themes. Melford's rhythmic acumen and barreling blues inflections together with Wilson's crisply propulsive drive and resourceful percussive textures banish any thought of the salon: this is chamber music with attitude.

Melford is well served by her band. Goldberg's poised mellifluous clarinet and Vu's casually expressive trumpet make for an engaging pairing, combining well in unison, but shining apart, with Goldberg's popping percolating contra-alto clarinet introduction to "Knocking from the Inside" and Vu's spluttering breathy excursion on "Moon Bird" which is especially noteworthy. Not to be outdone, the leader contributes a dazzling opening cadenza to the same track, almost Taylor-esque in its fragmentation and percussive attack. Ross' spiky picking, particularly on soprano guitar, adds a voice incisive in phrasing but unconventional in timbre, meshing attractively with Takeishi's pliant acoustic bass guitar for a kinetic rhythmic latticework.

Whether breaking out of the soaring klezmer waltz of "Through the Same Gate" with an unfettered piano solo, navigating the knotty staccato title track—only to frame duets for first bass and guitar, then rippling piano and clarinet—or pressing the get-up-an- go urgency of "I See a Horizon" into a swirling ensemble mash up, Melford's taut arrangements blur the distinction between front line and support, group and solo. Each richly voiced cut is different in construction and mood, drawing on a wide range of world music influences, yet the outcome remains distinctive and unclassifiable. The Whole Tree Gone is yet another outstanding release from Firehouse 12, and a triumph for Melford.

Track Listing: Through the Same Gate; Moon Bird; Night; The Whole Tree Gone; A Generation Comes and Another Goes; I See a Horizon; On the Lip of Insanity; Knocking from the Inside.

Personnel: Myra Melford: piano; Cuong Vu: trumpet; Ben Goldberg: clarinet and contra-alto clarinet; Brandon Ross: guitar and soprano guitar; Stomu Takeishi: acoustic bass guitar; Matt Wilson: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Into A Myth" CD/LP/Track Review Into A Myth
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "Leap Of Faith" CD/LP/Track Review Leap Of Faith
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "My Iris" CD/LP/Track Review My Iris
by Phil Barnes
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Wisdom Of Elders" CD/LP/Track Review Wisdom Of Elders
by James Nadal
Published: October 8, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!