Myriam Alter – Where Is There – Enja/Justin Time

by | May 27, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Myriam Alter – Where Is There – Enja/Justin Time JENJ 3331-2, *****:

(Myriam Alter, compositions; Jacques Morelenbaum, cello; John Ruocco, clarinet; Pierre Vaiana, soprano sax; Salvatore Bonafede, piano; Greg Cohen, doublebass; Joey Baron, drums)

Myriam Alter is a Belgian composer/pianist in her 40s from a Sephardic Jewish background, who left music for some time but returned to discover her skills as a brilliant composer in the jazz vein.  She was raised with many kinds of music and her work reflects the different cultural influences to which she was subject. One of her previous albums featured bandoneon whiz Dino Saluzzi, and this one employs cellist Jacques Morelenbaum, who toured as a bossa nova trio with his wife and pianist/composer Ryuchi Sakamoto.

These are eight absolutely gorgeous chamber jazz/classical compositions which I might well have placed in our classical section but for the fact that Enja is a jazz record label. The writing is lyrical, melodic, fascinating in its development, and not without a subtle swing even in the extremely quiet and slow-moving numbers.  I was reminded of Johnny Richard’s wonderful Adorations of the Muses of the 1950s.  This is another example of a whole new trend in what has previously been called “crossover” albums.  It’s much less forced than most of the Third Stream efforts of years ago, and has more originality and depth than the “swinging the classics” attempts at crossover fare.  The various musicians shine on clarinet, cello, soprano sax, clarinet and piano – Alter’s music wouldn’t work so well without their breathing life into it.

TrackList: Was It There, Still in Love, Come With Me, In Sicily, I’m Telling You, It Could be There, September 11, Catch Me There.

 – John Sunier

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