Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The NYT HEARTS Myra Melford

There’s always room in the precincts of improvised music for a new album by the pianist Myra Melford. “The Whole Tree Gone” (Firehouse 12), her first as a leader in more than three years, is a knockout by any standard, including the bar set by her previous work. Ambitious but approachable, suffused with airy warmth and restless calm, it unpacks a suite of lyrical compositions Ms. Melford has been refining since 2004. Their character ranges from slyly furtive (“Moon Bird,” inspired by MirĂ³) to gracefully frantic (the title track) to starkly elegiac (“A Generation Comes and Another Goes”), often shape-shifting in mid-song.

Be Bread, Ms. Melford’s coolly intuitive cohort, girds every structure with a pliable integrity, making these pieces feel both supple and sturdy. The group has a sympathetic front line (and a pair of commanding soloists) in the trumpeter Cuong Vu and the clarinetist Ben Goldberg; its rhythm section consists of the guitarist Brandon Ross and the bassist Stomu Takeishi, both playing acoustic instruments, and the drummer Matt Wilson, an endless fount of effervescence. Ms. Melford leads from within the stir, meting out her pianism in surges or shimmers, according to the music’s needs.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our Latest Email Missive

Happy New Year! We're kicking off our spring season with the dynamic
pianist Myra Melford and her sextet Be Bread on Friday, January 29 at
8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall. Tickets are $15 general admission
and $10 for students and seniors and can be purchased at the Works in
Arcata and Eureka, Peoples Records and Missing Link Records in Arcata
and online at http://www.redwoodjazzalliance.org/tickets.htm

We're sure that many of you caught Myra when she was here last month
with Jenny Scheinman. Now we're going to have a chance to hear Myra
perform her own music with her own all-star band. She put together Be
Bread several years ago to showcase music inspired by her study of
Indian music, but the band's sound isn't limited to one style, with
jazz, blues and avant-garde elements blending together with the South
Asian influences to create an unclassifiable yet cohesive whole. Be
Bread's concert here is part of a West Coast tour celebrating the
band's new CD "The Whole Tree Gone," which is being released next week
and is already gathering rave reviews. All About Jazz calls the album
"a committed and potent ensemble performance of music which satisfies
both the head and the heart" and "a triumph for Melford."

Besides Melford on piano and harmonium, Be Bread includes:

Trumpeter Cuong Vu, who is probably best known for his work in the Pat
Metheny Group, but he has also worked with everyone from Laurie
Anderson and David Bowie to Dave Douglas, as well as releasing four
critically acclaimed albums of his own.

Clarinetist Ben Goldberg, who is no stranger to North Coast audiences,
having previously played here with Go Home and Plays Monk.

Brandon Ross, guitarist of choice for Cassandra Wilson, Henry
Threadgill, Jewel, Tony Williams, Muhal Richard Abrams, Don Byron and
many more.

Stomu Takeishi, 2009 Downbeat Magazine Critic's Poll Rising Star
Electric Bassist. With Be Bread, Takeishi plays a 5-string acoustic
bass guitar.

Drummer Matt Wilson, who many of you will remember from Myra Melford's
concert here two years ago with the cooperative group Trio M. Matt
recently pulled off the rare feat of being featured on the covers of
both Downbeat and Jazz Times in successive months.

Myra and members of Be Bread will also present a free workshop
Saturday, January 30 at 10 a.m. in the Gist Hall Theater on the HSU

You can read more about Myra Melford and Be Bread and hear streaming
audio of their music at http://redwoodjazzalliance.org/bebread.html