(Marty Ehrlich, alto sax & clarinet; Myra Melford, piano)
Duo albums always call on the greatest effort and creativity from the two performers involved. There’s no rhythm section, no other musicians to aid in the musical expression. Marty Ehrlich is a celebrated multi-instrumentalist who has been involved in many recordings and performances both as a player and as a composer. Myra Melford has more than 20 albums behind her – nine of them as leader. She is on the cutting edge of modern jazz piano, and has been compared to Anthony Davis as one of the most gifted pianist/composers. She performs with several different avant jazz aggregations, and Jazziz magazine celebrated her “ability to carry listeners along, and then bring them back.”
Seven of the nine tracks are originals by either Ehrlich or Melford, with the other two coming from the pens of Andrew Hill and Robin Holcomb. Ehrlich’s Hymn both opens and closes the CD, in quite different versions. Two of Melford’s selections – A Generation Comes and Another Goes, and I See a Horizon – were inspired by the poetry of an Iraqi writer during a previous war there, in the 1940s. They are offered as prayers for peace there and for wherever the sanctity of life is violated.
Some of Ehrlich’s playing delves into free jazz expression a bit more than I’m personally comfortable with – but perhaps due to Melford’s ability to bring the listener back, one needn’t fear being lost out in left field. The variety of timbres and moods Ehrlich achieves with his reeds reminded me of some of the reed players on certain ECM jazz sessions. Such communication wouldn’t be possible without good sonics, and both instruments are beautifully captured on the disc.
TrackList: Hymn, A Generation Comes and Another Goes, I See a Horizon, For Leroy, Up Do, night, Blue Delhi, Images of Time, Hymn.
– John Henry