Jazz

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - John McBeath

Di­a­logue Myra Melford & Ben Gold­berg Bag Records

Myra Melford is an Amer­i­can pi­anist based in New York, where she moved to from Illinois in 1984 to study com­po­si­tion with sax­o­phon­ist Henry Thread­g­ill, whose band she later joined. Melford is best known in Aus­tralia for her ac­claimed 2014 duo pi­ano record­ing with Aus­tralian pi­anist Alis­ter Spence, Ev­ery­thing Here is Pos­si­ble. In this lat­est col­lec­tion she records with clar­inetist Ben Gold­berg, with whom she has played in oc­ca­sional duos since 2008. Gold­berg has played with nu­mer­ous artists in­clud­ing John Zorn. The al­bum is a set of 13 im­pro­vised con­ver­sa­tions, in­clud­ing elo­quent themes, ex­plo­rative ideas and free im­pro­vi­sa­tions. An ex­am­ple of the lat­ter is The Kitchen, where in­ter­est never flags as Melford’s ex­plo­sive pi­ano is ca­ressed, then pounded. Ten­sion mounts, then sub­sides again as clar­inet con­tin­ues alone, and the two join to echo a theme es­tab­lished by Melford at the be­gin­ning. A good ex­am­ple of the way in which th­ese two are able to think as one is in the open­ing to 1 Through 8, a piece that at first could be a light-clas­si­cal num­ber but in­ter­weaves bluesy ideas as the work con­tin­ues. There are blues traces also in City of Il­lu­sion as well as bursts of hec­tic pi­ano. The al­bum is not as ab­stract as it might have been and many of the nar­ra­tives com­mu­ni­cate moods well: Moon­less Night builds its sce­nario with de­scrip­tive im­agery. This un­usual col­lec­tion ranges through dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­ments, some with clas­si­cal over­tones, and plenty of in­formed jazz im­pro­vi­sa­tion by two ac­com­plished mu­si­cians, work­ing ex­pertly to­gether.

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