Dialogue by Myra Melford and Ben Goldberg, review by John McBeath

myra melford ben goldberg

Album:  Dialogue
Artist:   Myra Melford and Ben Goldberg
Release Date: 2016
Label:    Self Produced

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Myra Melford is an American pianist based in New York where she moved from Illinois in 1984 to study composition with saxophonist Henry Threadgill, whose band she later joined.
Melford is probably best known in Australia for her acclaimed 2014 duo piano recording with Australian pianist Alister Spence, Everything Here is Possible.

In this latest collection she records with clarinetist Ben Goldberg with whom she has played in occasional duos since 2008. Goldberg has played with numerous artists including John Zorn.

The album is a set of thirteen improvised conversations, including eloquent themes, explorative ideas, and free improvisations. An example of the latter is The Kitchen where interest never flags as Melford’s explosive piano is both caressed, then pounded, after exploratory bass notes she uses to underpin long-held clarinet notes. Tension mounts then subsides again, as clarinet continues alone, and the two join to echo a theme established by Melford at the beginning.
A good example of the way in which these two are able to think as one is in the opening to 1 Through 8, a piece that at first could be a light-classical number but interweaves bluesy ideas as the work continues. There are blues traces also in City of Illusion as well as some bursts of hectic piano.

The album is not as abstract as it might have been, and many of the narratives communicate moods very well: Moonless Night for example builds its scenario with descriptive imagery.

This unusual collection ranges through different temperaments, some with classical overtones, and plenty of informed jazz improvisation by two accomplished musicians, working expertly together.

Review originally published by the Australian

For just over 24 years I have been a freelance writer, publishing in that time a wide variety of genres: news items, live concert reviews, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews. I have written for various in-flight magazines, The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, The Melbourne Herald Sun and several regional newspapers. In 1994 I won a national travel-writing prize sponsored by The Australian newspaper, which led to my writing regularly for that paper. Since 2003 I have been jazz critic for The Advertiser and The Australian newspapers, on average contributing weekly to each paper. In 2005 I won a national Jazz Writing Competition sponsored by the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.