Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Allison Miller: drums
Myra Melford: piano
Todd Sickafoose: bass
Jenny Scheinman: violin
With a loud, confident burst from the drum kit Allison Miller launched into a long, wickedly varied set as a live tune-up run before heading into the studio with this quartet of talent. The material previewed for this future release sounds incredibly promising. The space afforded to each individual courses along a shifting groove that never falls out of the pocket. Boom Tic Boom works a healthy and intoxicatingly funky part of the creative improvised spectrum.
There were several moments of remarkable chemistry within parts of the quartet.
The muted pizzicato of Todd Sickafoose maintaining flawless time against Miller's extreme syncopation during a quiet moment in Mary Lou Williams' "Intermission." Myra Melford's rhythmic exploration of the natural harmonics of the lowest strings on the grand piano. Jenny Scheinman's brilliant, vibrato-free tone on the violin. The beautiful sheen surrounding the group's interpretation of Louis Armstrong's "Rocking Chair." The twists and turns of Miller's original compositions as the rock solid time never felt rigid or set in stone. Moments that hang in the air and invite the ears to draw in close.
The easy engagement between collaborating improvisers and between performers and audience led to a natural flow of solos and group dynamic in this remarkable quartet. Soft details were never lost as the overall dynamic range allowed for high contrast. The formal contours of these pieces retaining their compositional identity without stifling the creative instincts and interplay involved. The appreciation expressed on the heels of each solo unfolding naturally, and without sense of obligation or politeness, as the full house took in the sonic ride. This is definitely a quartet to watch.