Sunday, November 05, 2017

Myra Melford Trio - Alive in the House of Saints Part 1 (Hatology, 1993, 2001, 2017)

This is third edition of one of pianist and composer Myra Melford’s most highly regarded albums, and the sparkling remaster of this album done in 2017 brings the crispness and clarity of the music to the forefront. This album was recorded live in Germany in 1993 with Lindsay Horner on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums, and they transcend the usual expectations of a piano trio, developing an organic interplay that serves them well in the four lengthy performances found on this disc. It is easy to understand why this album is so revered, with the music developing a bright and percussive sound that really carries the listener along with like a wave. There are four lengthy performances beginning with "Evening Might Still" which shows the band locked in together with Melford's bright and percussive piano playing building gradually into a headlong rush of piano, bass and drums. The music isn't necessarily free per se, but it is very wide open and confident which allows the music to develop organically with each of the instruments supporting the rhythm of the music but also allowing for individual features. In this track and the follow up performance "Now and Now 1" allude to the classic piano music that Don Pullen made during his brilliant career with Charles Mingus, George Adams and his own solo album. Melford's exiting cascades of notes are in the Pullen mode but are also her very own as she has an a unique way that she interfaces with the instruments, working in tandem with the bassist and drummer to compile an elastic groove that can ground the music in blues a bop, but has the ability to stretch into more outsider territory. The lengthy performance "Between Now and Then" shows the mastery that the trio has over space and time, with the proceedings developing their own individual cadence which leads up to a portion of near silence, showing the patience and stoicism that allows the music to proceed in an unexpected direction. The concluding track "Parts 1 and 2 Frank Lloyd Wright Goes West to Rest" brings together all of these disparate portions of the band's manner of approaching improvisation and interaction over eighteen kaleidoscopic minutes that takes an appropriately architectural approach to the performance, setting up a scaffolding of melody and rhythm and using that as a setting off point for a powerful and exciting collective improvisation. This was an excellent album, featuring a trio that had it's own unique sound and trust in one another and using that to create potent and thoughtful modern jazz that has stood the test of time. Hopefully a remastered version of Part 2 of this collection is in the pipeline, because more music from this great trio would be very welcome. Alive in the House of Saints Part 1 - amazon.com

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