26 July 2008

Enthusiasms (19) ~ Myra Melford

I have spent a considerable amount of time lately listening to a couple of CDs by pianist Myra Melford and several collaborators. I had been vaguely aware that over the years Melford had kept musical company with, among others, various AACM luminaries ~ Henry Threadgill, Leroy Jenkins, Reggie Nicholson and Joseph Jarman. Then a while back I saw this notice in The New York Times about her side project with Trio M (Mark Dresser on bass & Mark Wilson on drums) and was intrigued enough to go fetch their CD, (Big Picture on Cryptogramophone). To be clear, as The Times notice makes clear this trio is a side project for all the Ms who profess to being over-committed with other undertakings. In any case, I have been playing the CD more or less constantly since.

I've also been listening to Melford's most recent duet recording (Spark on Palmetto) with yet another M ~ Marty Erhlich (clarinet, mostly). Although this is surely not Ehrlich's fault, the label's web page lists the recording under his name rather than as a duet. Shame on them.

On both records Melford's playing ranges from luminous to jagged; she often threatens to careen completely off on her own but never does, unfailingly carrying us back to her musical interlocutors. Her collaborators are, it goes without saying, all superb. But in both settings, Melford simply dazzles.

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