Friday, March 25, 2005
Myra Melford: Now & Now.
Women's History Month at HurdAudio is swinging as tonight the celebration turns to Now & Now, recorded in 1991 by Myra Melford's classic piano trio with Lindsey Horner on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums.
"Shout" opens this listening experience with a brief piano introduction that magnetically pulls toward a flowing groove with the full trio. After a creative melodic statement (an exquisite melodic construction in and of itself) the texture gives way for an arco bass solo. The piano solo that follows is stunning in its intensity and creative bursts of startling harmonic modulations and sustained development upon the thematic material in the initial melody. This gives way to a tastefully thick drum solo heavy on the toms. The melody then returns, this time played arco on the acoustic bass as Melford provides harmonic support.
"This That Way" opens with a martial snare that melts into infectious trio interplay. The ride cymbal and strummed bass provide an inviting texture for Melford's improvisations. This piano solo veers wildly into some "free" territory that makes use of the piano's extreme registers and maintains cohesiveness through the responsive interactions between these excellent musicians. This piece rolls to a conclusion on the drums as a symmetrical reference to the beginning.
"The Turning Point" is one of those great Myra Melford compositions that has plenty of jaw-dropping development points and satisfying thematic iterations. This track alone is worth the price of the CD. Many of the pianistic gestures draw upon the vocabulary of the blues while the trio swings this one hard.
"Ancient Airs" sets up with a tasty arco bass solo. Horner draws a rich variety of tonal colors with the horse hair using a dash of portamento and some ringing open strings at the end of several of his phrases. When the piano does enter this sonic frame it arrives with another great melodic construction laid out on a solid 3/4 texture provided by the rhythm section. This is easily one of my favorite Melford melodies. Hearing these themes return and develop is deeply satisfying.
"Between Now And Then" is the highlight of this listening experience. Compositionally, this piece builds slowly and deliberately upon a few ideas until it reaches an unbelievable climax where everything comes together into a devastatingly beautiful impact at 10:02 to 11:19. This minute rewards the active ear with an inspired recapitulation.
"Now & Now" begins with a quiet drum solo that paints the backdrop for Melford's creative iteration of the melodic material. A solid groove soon settles in as it snakes through some metric changes before allowing some bassline ostinatos to take root.
This is a great piano trio CD that is sadly out of print. This trio recorded three CDs together and each one is a gem that should place this ensemble in elite company in the history of piano trios. One can already hear the roots of Melford's approach to formal construction and thematic development that would later grow into more open structures for larger ensembles.