Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dance Beyond the Color

Myra Melford: Dance Beyond the Color. Posted by Hello

It's Women's History Month at HurdAudio. Tonight I turn my ears to pianist Myra Melford's Crush Trio and their 1999 recording Dance Beyond the Color.

This is the second piano trio formed around Myra Melford's considerable talent and compositional leadership. The chemistry and moody, spacious improvised textures of Stomu Takeishi on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums are a great match for Melford's ever expansive compositional approach.

"Like Rain Whispers Mist" opens this listening experience with piano in the focal point. Short phrases unfold a melodic and harmonic logic that invites the bass and drums to paint a backdrop underneath a building improvisation. Wollesen's brush work match the tranquility of this work while Takeishi's rubbery electric bass sound traces the harmonic progress. Eventually Melford drops out of the texture and allows Takeishi to take a moody solo where he tastefully uses some live electronic effects. The piano then returns to the texture for a final, and satisfying run through the melodic material.

"Orange" opens with an exquisite texture of muted piano strings percussively drifting in and out over live-sampled loops of electric bass sounds and subtle cymbal work. These sounds are restrained, inventive and represent fresh terrain for piano trio. Melford then builds toward some melodic lines that set off a steady groove as the sound coalesces into a focus on the piano.

On "Equal Grace" Melford plays the harmonium while Takeishi articulates some great bass lines. The sustaining, drone texture of this instrument brings a contrasting element to a trio dominated by the percussive sound of the piano. About half way through the rhythm section locks in on a tight groove with Wollesen playing some hand drums while Melford drops the drone in favor of melodic statement. The result is evocative and the momentum is irresistible.

"Chalk Sanskrit" is the highlight of this listening experience. The multiple textures that unfold during this piece reveal a cohesive trio shifting seamlessly between groove and free collaborative improvisation.

This disc is full of surprises for anyone who's been following the evolution of Myra Melford's compositional aesthetic. There are audible elements of both her "old" and "new" melodic sound and approach to improvisation. The expansive quality of this music and the range of textures supplied by this rhythm section keep me coming back to this disc.

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