MELFORD, Myra/Be Bread. The Image of Your Body. Cryptoigramphone. 2006. $16.30.
MM, p, harmonium; Brandon Ross, elect guit, bjo, voc; Cuong Vu, tpt, electronics; Stomu Takeishi, elect and acoust b, electronics; Elliott Humberto Kavee, dr.
TRIO M. The Guest House. Enja Yellow Bird. 2011. $13.84.
MELFORD, Myra, p; DRESSER, Mark, b; WILSON, Matt, dr.
Myra Melford has been a name I've heard of but not heard until now. These two albums -with her collaborative Trio M, recorded in 2011, and with her quartet, Be Bread (guitarist/banjoist Ross and trumpeter Vu trade off on different cuts), recorded eight years earlier and released three years later--do a lot to make up for my omission. Image features Melford's quartet, Be Bread. It's a very tasty album, featuring good modernist jazz. The range of instruments deployed -Melford switching from piano to harmonium, Ross from guitar to banjo, two players doubling on electronics--makes for interesting ensemble work. Melford wrote all the compositions on the album and they're good. In her liner notes, she credits her inspiration to a recent visit to India and the liner notes include a translation of a poem, "The Image of Your Body," by the Sufi mystic Rumi. The musicians on this album are first rate. They listen to each other and the result is collaborative, sensitive yet driving jazz music of a high order.
The Guest House is a collaborative effort, with compositions from all three members of the group. The music is exciting -it both tickles the intellect and drives the senses. All three musicians are first rate but the drummer, Matt Wilson, in particular drives me nuts. He is so good -kind of a West Coast American analogue to my favorite ECM drummer Jon Christensen in his use of complex and always changing rhythm patterns and dynamics and his responsiveness to his partners in the group. As for Melford, try as I may, I don't know who she sounds like. She's just herself. And it`s a very good thing to be. She has obviously listened to a lot of pianists and she mines them for her own uses. She is also a very interesting composer. This is a truly superior album.