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The Whole Tree Gone

Myra Melford's Be Bread

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Album Review

Myra Melford's pithy, candid, creative, quiet fire music is best heard in concert, but her studio recordings give you a very good helping of what's she's capable of in a shorter form. The sextet dubbed Be Bread has evolved over a handful of years, mixing and matching instruments and timbres that favor the lithe, playful, and at times craggy piano style of Melford. With clarinetist Ben Goldberg, trumpeter Cuong Vu, and guitarist Brandon Ross, Melford has set yet another new standard of excellence in the modern progressive world of jazz. It's also admirable that drummer Matt Wilson is on yet another world-class project as a sideman alongside the still underappreciated acoustic bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi. While these compositions comprise, in part, older material, some taken from the suite "The Whole Place Goes Up," she continues to massage and morph this music with startling originality and purpose. Goldberg's clarinet — taking over for predecessor Marty Ehrlich — sports an unforced, simpler feeling like the noble, ebony colored wood it is made from. With the more demonstrative Vu, they come to terms Melford's rambling, bluesy piano with quick unison lines and spiky accents on "Moon Bird," breeze along in the modified tango "Through the Same Gate," or create high drama in combustible modal freedom for the 5/4 beat of the title selection. Melford's balanced music is a marvelous combination of composed and spontaneously improvised approaches, best heard on "A Generation Comes & Another Goes," much like a Carla Bley mix of spooky seriousness and dancing whimsy. Ross, a far too talented player to continue flying under the radar, gets a sweet, plucky feature during "On the Lip Of Insanity," where the band is careful being careful. At times you hear funky or Eastern Indian inferences, while overall, the music is not so complicated as it is elegant and parabolic. Happily, it is another triumph for Melford in that her hot streak of extraordinarily original projects keeps rolling on and upping the ante. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

The Whole Tree Gone, Myra Melford's Be Bread
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