Trio M @ Guelph Youth Music Centre, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Myra Melford: piano, composer
Mark Dresser: bass
Matt Wilson: drums
Trio M marks Myra Melford's triumphant return to the piano trio format. The trio she led in the early '90s with bassist Lindsey Horner and drummer Reggie Nicholson recorded some amazing music that I still listen to with great regularity. After working with a range of extended ensembles, exploring more open-ended improvisation forms in a variety of contexts and spending time studying in India she has returned to her "roots" with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson to form what is easily the best piano trio I've ever seen live. With all new compositions that mix structured melodic material with free improvisation and a stunning amount of blues this was hands down the best concert of the festival. I came away from this performance in a daze of amazement, as did much of the audience under a spell that lingered well after the last note had faded away into the ether.
Mark Dresser is a phenomenal bassist. His integration of extended techniques is well documented and he's still finding ways to pull new sounds out of his instrument. In this performance he had additional pickup microphones up near the top of the neck of his bass that allow the difference tone - the length of string between where it is stopped and the top of the instrument - to ring out with eerie effect. It was an effect he used sparingly that added an interesting dimension to his sound.
Matt Wilson is possibly the happiest drummer on the planet. Who can blame him given the kind of people he's playing with. With an animated grin and laughter as part of his drum kit he was the most engaged and engaging drummer of the festival. And he would later impress me even more as the drummer of the Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra later the evening.
The sounding fabric that joined these three instruments together was seamless as Melford's percussive playing blended with Wilson's drumming while weaving deftly within and around the harmonic registers shared with the wide ranging Mark Dresser. This trio sounded more unified than seems possible given the difference in timbre of these instruments. With performances like this one it's easy to explain why I hold Myra Melford in such high esteem.