Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Myra Melford Trio - Alive in the House of Saints, Part 2 (hatOLOGY, 2018)

This is the second volume of a highly regarded series of live recordings that pianist and composer Myra Melford recorded during 1993 in Germany in the company of Lindsay Horner on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums and percussion. This particular volume contains six Melford compositions, and it shows her at an early peak, having digested the history of post-war jazz and developing the ability to write her own material and then improvise upon it in such a way that she portrays a unique voice, one that can move from a modernist swing feel to free improvisation quickly, while still sounding thoughtful and intricate. Horner and Nicholson are the ideal band mates for Melford, since Horner has a massive tone on bass, one stretches the music elastically whether he is playing inside the ensemble or soloing, and Nicholson develops a varied rhythmic setting that is essential to the flow of the music. The three meld together seamlessly when working as a cohesive unit, but they all take solo spots when the opportunity becomes available to further stamp their individuality upon the proceedings. "Breaking Light" is the opening track, one that develops slowly from caresses of bass and brushes and subtle piano, stretching out melodically into open space as a carefully woven ballad. There is a mid performance crescendo with hints of the energy, before Horner takes an impressive solo. After one more flourish, the music makes a quiet and graceful exit. Bass and drums lay the foundation for "Some Kind of Blues" setting an earthy tone, with Melford gracefully entering and allowing the music to develop organically by adding bright chords and ripples of sound to the forefront. The music slowly develops a patient ascent into their improvised section, adding snippets of thematic material and developing a rich, full sound. The band is able to dig deep into the blues with flourishes of dynamic sound that breathe life into a more complex section of crashing percussion and bright showers of keyboard. "That the Peace" belies it's title by becoming one of the stormiest and freest performances on the album, making for a powerful and progressive performance of cascading collective improvisation that is built around the solid footing of a grounded opening section. The music is intricate and filled with information, which allows the group to slip the bonds and fly unencumbered with increased volume and density, making for a very exciting and memorable performance. Heading back to a slow boil, the music shimmers like heat rising on a sunny day, while the following track "And Silence" moves in the opposite direction with discreetly played percussion and bass to balance the cells of piano, which results in a spacious and thoughtful improvisation that has the time to develop nicely with strong trio sections and openings for squalls of Don Pullen like piano from the leader, and another fine bass solo for Horner. "Now and Now 2" rumbles and spits ominously before coming together splendidly with a rippling and rhythmic trio improvisation, as the three rampage gleefully over the soundscape. This leads into the nervous energy of "Live Jump" with rapid solo piano creating an interesting setting, with the bass and drums coming in strong to add further lift to the performance. Their collective improvisation sounds effortless, incorporating excellent solo bass and drum passages, gliding on waves of sound as the music pours out of them, which makes for an apt metaphor for this enjoyable album as a whole. Alive In The House Of Saints, Part 2 - amazon.com

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