Reviews that mention Myra Melford

February 18, 2017

Tiger Trio

Unleashed
Boklet notes for RogueArt ROG00074

Although double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s music has always been as French as the Eiffel Tower, for four decades she has been open to collaborations with improvisers from other countries, especially the United States. So it’s no surprise to find her partners on this Paris concerto pianist Myra Melford and flutist Nicole Mitchell, who are both now based on the US West Coast. Without putting too fine a point on it, the sonic affiliation displayed with this Euro-American trio also mark another theme which the bassist has bolstered over the years: championing the profound skills women musicians can express in improvised music. Although Léandre has throughout her career made it a point to perform with players of many nationalities, ages and genders – ranging from elders such as guitarist Derek Bailey and saxophonist Daunik Lazro to then-tyros like clarinetist François Houle and violinist Theo Ceccaldi – some of her most outstanding work has been in the company of other female performers or in all-women bands. The best-known entity of course is Les Diaboliques, the long-running trio she pilots alongside pianist Irène Schweizer, and vocalist Maggie Nicols. But her sessions in the company of other sophisticated female sound experimenters encompass meetings with such innovators as violinist India Cooke, percussionist Danielle P. Roger, pianist Marilyn Crispell and singer Lauren Newton. MORE

September 6, 2016

Myra Melford + Ben Goldberg

Dialogue
Bag Productions BAG 010

By Ken Waxman

Chamber music-styled jazz that still manages to inject spunk into compositions otherwise replete with soft-hued detailing, pianist Myra Melford and clarinetist Ben Goldberg make the most of studied interactions on these 13 tracks, mostly composed by the pianist. Able to matter-of-factly scoot from rhythmic swing to ascetic improvisations with the uncomplicated aplomb of a trapeze team making their acrobatic feats seem commonplace, only in rare instances does the duo grandstand with extended techniques. The watchword here is nuance. MORE

August 6, 2016

Dresser/Mitchell/Melford/Dessen

Virtual Tour: A Reduced Carbon Footprint Concert Series
pfMENTUM DVD 094

By Ken Waxman

Ever notice that people are never shown watching TV images on television programs? That’s because the concept of a viewer watching a screen showing someone watching another screen moves into the surrealistic realm of a René Magritte painting. This is one drawback of Virtual Tour. Intriguing in conception, the idea is that four San Diego-based musicians – pianist Myra Melford, bassist Mark Dresser, trombonist Michael Dessen and flutist Nicolle Mitchell – play in real time via high-speed uncompressed audio and high definition video connections alongside three separately linked ensembles in Amherst, MA, Stony Brook, NY, and Zürich, Switzerland. Oversized video screens are on stage with each, which at points provides some arresting close-ups of intricate solo explorations or intense responses to each other’s playing. This is especially obvious during lick trading from Dessen and fellow trombonist Ray Anderson in Stony Brook, But throughout the 193 [!] -minute program there are many shots of one group or another waiting to play following solos taken elsewhere. That is visuals of people watching other people on TV. MORE

April 12, 2015

Ben Goldberg

Orphic Machine
BAG Productions BAG 007

Ananda Gari

T-Duality

Auand Records AU 9041

Tineke Postma

Sonic Halo

Challenge Records CR 73370

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

Shiki

Libra Records 215-036

SITA: Cutting-Edge Free Improvisation at The Music Gallery

By Ken Waxman

Major improvisers from elsewhere frequently play Toronto, but not as often do they appear with an all-star line-up. That’s what happens on April 29 when alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s Snakeoil is in concert at The Music Gallery. Berne, who has been on the cutting edge of advanced jazz for 30-odd years, arrives with three younger players who have distinguished themselves on the New York scene: fellow reedist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith. This being the 21th Century and past the age of consistently working groups, each – including Berne – is involved in many other projects. MORE

March 8, 2014

Myra Melford

Life Carries Me This Way
Firehouse 12 Records FH12-04-01-18

Satoko Fujii

Gen Himmel

Libra Records 101-033

Kaja Draksler

The Lives of Many Others

Clean Feed CF 286 CD

By Ken Waxman

Solo sessions of any sort are demanding; they’re even more so when the piano is involved. That’s because, consciously or not, the player has hovering in the background the entire solo jazz piano history from Jelly Roll Morton to Cecil Taylor. Three pianists from three different continents face that history imaginatively with these releases. MORE

June 28, 2013

Roscoe Mitchell

Three Compositions
Rogueart ROG-0043

A rare glimpse of Roscoe Mitchell’s singular skills as an orchestrator and conductor, the fascination of Numbers is how well an 11-piece strings-and-horns ensemble can balance the saxophonist’s notated and improvisational tropes so that the core of the reedman’s creativity is maintained.

Recorded at a Sardinian Jazz festival, the program’s bets are hedged in two different ways. For a start the three compositions were either – in the case of “Quintet #1 for Eleven” and “Quintet #9 for Eleven” – transcribed from charts Mitchell created for his working combo, then rearranged to allow free sections in this score for the larger group, or in the third, based on game theory. Now titled “Cards for Orchestra”, but really “Memories of a Dying Parachutist”, the track is an aleatory invention, where each solo is based on six cards of musical instruction given to each player by the composer. The instructions can be used in any order and played at any tempo. MORE

October 7, 2012

Festival Report

The Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

A spectre was haunting the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), but it was a benign spectre: the ghost of John Coltrane. The influence of Coltrane, who died in 1967, was honored in direct and indirect ways throughout the five days of the festival which takes places annually in this mid-sized college town, 100 kilometres west of Toronto.

This year’s edition (September 5 to 9), featured two live performances of Ascension, Coltrane’s free jazz masterwork from 1965, one with the original instrumentation by an 11-piece Toronto ensemble at the local arts centre; the other on the main stage of the soft-seated River Run Centre concert hall featured the Bay-area ROVA saxophone’s quartet reimaging of the work, scored for 12 musicians adding strings and electronics to the basic ensemble. MORE

January 5, 2012

Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Verona
Nu Bop Records CD 09

SFE

Positions and Descriptions

Clean Feed CF 230 CD

By Ken Waxman

For the past 20-odd years as “Butch” Morris has demonstrated conduction: structuring free improvisation using a specific series of hand gestures, many improvising ensembles have been created in his its wake. Whether groups use or not signals developed by Morris to rearrange and sculpt notated and non-notated music, conduction is part of their inventory. As these releases demonstrate however, it depends on individual musicians’ skills for a performance to be fully satisfying. MORE

September 10, 2011

Steven Lugerner

These Are The Words/Narratives
No label No #

By Ken Waxman

There’s Cool-Jazz, Funk-Jazz and Free-Jazz, so why not Gematria-Jazz? Gematria substitutes numbers for letters in the Hebrew alphabet, using the resulting numerical harmony to analyze the torah.

Multi-reedman Steve Lugerner, who studies Gematria, used it to create These Are The Words, one CD in this package. Transmogrifying portions of the torah into a series of numbers, he arranged the numbers to create melodic figures, tone rows, harmonies, tempos and time signatures. “I wanted to create Jewish music that didn’t necessarily sound overtly Jewish,” he says. It doesn’t; but it does stand up as high-calibre improvisation. This may have as much to do with his associates – trumpeter Darren Johnston, pianist Myra Melford, and drummer Matt Wilson – as his divinely inspired compositions. MORE

July 29, 2009

Joachim Kühn & Michael Wollny

Live at Schloss Elmau
ACT Music 9758-2

Satoko Fujii-Myra Melford

Under the Water

Libra Records 202-024

While for many the idea of dual piano duets may conjure up unfortunate visions of unchallenging background sounds from Ferrante and Teicher or alternately Billy Joel and Elton John camping it up, this communication among equals has a long history in so-called classical music and latterly in jazz. Neither of the duos here though could be confused with other well-known jazz twofers, such as those created by boogie-woogie stylists Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons, mainstreamers Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan – or with each other. But each brings something characteristic and exceptional to the hoary concept. MORE

July 29, 2009

Satoko Fujii-Myra Melford

Under the Water
Libra Records 202-024

Joachim Kühn & Michael Wollny

Live at Schloss Elmau

ACT Music 9758-2

While for many the idea of dual piano duets may conjure up unfortunate visions of unchallenging background sounds from Ferrante and Teicher or alternately Billy Joel and Elton John camping it up, this communication among equals has a long history in so-called classical music and latterly in jazz. Neither of the duos here though could be confused with other well-known jazz twofers, such as those created by boogie-woogie stylists Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons, mainstreamers Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan – or with each other. But each brings something characteristic and exceptional to the hoary concept. MORE

April 4, 2009

Alex Cline

Continuation
Cryptogramophone CG 140

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley

RogueArt ROG-0016

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams

Drip Audio DA00206

Peggy Lee

New Code

Drip Audio DA 00318

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

April 4, 2009

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams
Drip Audio DA00206

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley

RogueArt ROG-0016

Alex Cline

Continuation

Cryptogramophone CG 140

Peggy Lee

New Code

Drip Audio DA 00318

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

April 4, 2009

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley
RogueArt ROG-0016

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams

Drip Audio DA00206

Alex Cline

Continuation

Cryptogramophone CG 140

Peggy Lee

New Code

Drip Audio DA 00318

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

April 4, 2009

Peggy Lee

New Code
Drip Audio DA 00318

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley

RogueArt ROG-0016

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams

Drip Audio DA00206

Alex Cline

Continuation

Cryptogramophone CG 140

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

December 4, 2007

Trio M

Big Picture
Cryptogramophone CG 1434

Big Picture returns Myra Melford to the interlocking trio format with which the diminutive pianist made her reputation in the early 1990s. Except that Trio M is more than the earlier Melford Trio writ large; it’s completed by two other forceful improvisers and composers. Like the pianist, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson are bandleaders on their own, yet the seven-track CD, which divides the playing and writing chores, irrefutably proves that the sum is greater than its parts. MORE

August 30, 2004

MYRA MELFORD’S THE TENT

Where the Two Worlds Touch
Arabesque AJ0159

THE FONDA/STEVENS GROUP
Twelve improvisations
Leo CD LR 394

Building on jazz’s standard two-horns-and-rhythm combo format, these CDs impress by showing how the players manage to make things new by tweaking sounds to match their own aspirations.

A team for over 20 years, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and bassist Joe Fonda do this by not only insisting that all the sounds on their CD be completely improvised, but by adding another voice to the line-up. French alto and baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro is one of that country’s foremost experimenters, working in contexts as varied as solo recitals and bands with saxophonist Michel Doneda and Joe McPhee. Here his unique articulation and sound sources add another dimension to that supplied by the pianist, bassist, long-time drummer Harvey Sorgen, and endlessly inventive trumpeter Herb Robertson, who has worked with Fonda and Stevens in various bands, on-and-off for more than a decade. MORE

July 21, 2003

ANDREW DRURY

A Momentary Lapse
Innova 581

You may well ask, after hearing this excellent CD, who Andrew Drury is and why he isn’t better known?

Answering the first question is easier than dealing with the second. The New York-based drummer/composer has played with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and reedist Vinny Golia, among others, created and photographed site-specific drum solos in desert and mountain settings, led junk percussion workshops and recorded two earlier CDs. Yet not only are his percussion skills up to snuff, but on evidence of the tunes here, he’s a sophisticated modern composer as well. He mixes the sense of rhythm and sensitivity that characterizes drummer-composers like Max Roach and Gerry Hemingway with voicing and arrangements that connect sophisticated EuroImprov sensibility with New World swing. MORE

January 25, 2001

MYRA MELFORD/MARTY EHRLICH

Yet Can Spring
Arabesque Recordings AJO 154

One may be the loneliest number, but for committed improvisers creating as a duo can be fraught with more anxiety than playing on one's own. Uncompromising solo work may necessitate capturing the listener's attention while weaving variations on the material. But when it takes two, each partner must be like mountain climbers hitched together by a thick rope. Even the tiniest movement of the other must be scrupulously anticipated and amplified so that both don't suddenly plunge down the precipice.

MORE