Myra Melford's Snowy Egret - The Other Side of Air

Label: Firehouse12, 2018

Personnel – Myra Melford: piano; Ron Miles: cornet; Liberty Ellman: guitar; Stomu Takeishi: bass guitar; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

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Myra Medford, a singular pianist, composer, and bandleader (Be Bread, Trio M, Snowy Egret), continues to depict new landscapes and narrate interesting stories with innovative sounds. On The Other Side of Air, the members of Snowy Egret - a quintet featuring Ron Miles on cornet, Liberty Ellman on guitar, Stomu Takeishi on bass guitar, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums - create unpredictable fusions within the legitimate compositional aesthetic of the pianist. The virtuosity and intuition of the group are immediately perceptible on the opening track, “Motion Stop Frame”. The attractive melody, either uttered in unison or counterpoint, is laid over a stealthy bass groove that anchors further sonic layers. Miles and Melford find the space they need for their respective impromptu discourses; the former enjoys a serene, more rudimentary backing, whereas the bandleader reacts particularly colorful by engaging in busy single-note trajectories, patent rhythmic figures, and harmonic chains filled with tension.

City of Illusion” is one of the most appealing songs on the record with its shifting, eclectic outlines. It is set in motion with a meditative, lyrical piano composure, adjusting its direction halfway as a result of danceable and uncompromising Latin jazz and funk insinuations. Miles' purity of sound and Ellman's idiosyncratic phrasing can be fully enjoyed before the placidity brought in the beginning is restored.

A common feature on “Chorale” and “Turn & Coda” is that they are more piano-oriented pieces with a notable integration of discordant guitar notes for a tangy seasoning. The latter tune, which closes out the recording, boasts this illuminating aura that is particularly beautiful.

The title track is divided into two parts; the first is like an abstract canvas denoting pale colors and sketchy lines, while the second, featuring Takeishi’s slides and harmonics, goes deeper in terms of group coloration while flowing within a temperate environment.

If “Attic” is melodically playful and propelled by a Brazilian-flavored rhythmic pulse, then “Living Music” plays in a similar way but with fun marching rhythms in its base. This pair of postmodern pieces is a showcase for Sorey’s inventive percussion articulations, with the group adding a startling array of instrumental voices on “Attic” to stimulate a denser avant-gardish passage. Typically Melford's, I would say.

The tight structures of this jazz-influenced new music encapsulate a fluid amalgam of composition and improvisation that strikes you with the force of a thunder. This is another elegant work from an accomplished pianist.

 Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Motion Stop Frame ► 02 - City of Illusion ► 10 - Turn & Coda