Jan 18 2019
Best of 2018 #9: Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret – “The Other Side of Air”
Typically, the albums that make this site’s Best Of list top ten are those that have made a statement. That statement could come in any form… a social or political commentary, a picture of what jazz can become or the bounty that jazz past can yet provide, a personal artistic plateau achieved or a state of perfection on an existing vein of exploration… anything, really, where the significance of the recording rivals what makes it special. But without fail, there’s always an album that scores a top ten ranking that is there just because of what it is… beautiful music crafted with exquisite taste and expertise. Myra Melford’s The Other Side of Air is 2018’s iteration. Alongside cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Liberty Ellman, drummer Tyshawn Sorey and bassist Stomu Takeishi, the Bay-area pianist has created something that exists as a snapshot, of timeless music captured in one brief moment of the music continuum she and her collaborators have, and will continue to create over the course of their lives. This music represents itself- its beautiful melodies and its jagged edges, its warped shapes and vivid imagery- and that’s all the statement that needed be made. This album is what it’s all about.
Released on Firehouse 12 Records.
Music from Berkeley, CA.
I wrote about the album for The Bandcamp Daily.
Jan 23 2020
Best of 2019 #47: Ben Goldberg – “Good Day for Cloud Fishing”
In a way, it would be inaccurate to view Ben Goldberg‘s explorations of poetry merely as some sort of phase in the clarinetist’s creative evolution. Goldberg’s music has always been characterized by its poetic spirit, a quality revealed in the delivery as much as the lyricism. Goldberg is certainly as capable of lighting things up as the next soloist, but when he’s approaching a piece with an economy of sound is when he’s at his strongest. These are the moments when his choice of inflections and emphases fill the music with a presence, a spirit, that has both the weight of deeply considered thought and the boundless freedom to take flight and soar high above.
That being said, those projects that actually incorporate poetry into the fabric of the recording contain a certain delight that should not be dismissed as a mere extension of his natural sound. Goldberg’s excellent 2015 release Orphic Machine was an ode to the poetry of Allen Grossman, utilizing his words as both foundation and frame. On Goldberg’s latest foray into spoken word, Goldberg’s trio with trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist Nels Cline recorded a new piece based on a poem by Dean Young. Then, present in the recording studio, the poet was asked to write an entirely new poem from what he had just heard, which led to a new piece from the musicians, and thus continued a closed loop of creative spontaneity and inspiration, circling endlessly back upon itself. From a conceptual standpoint, this is pretty damn cool, both as a mainline of improvisational technique and by way of its multi-medium crossover perspective. And viewed in the context of the music alone, it’s a testament to Goldberg’s innate poetic spirit and how it manifests in yet more wonderful music.
Your album personnel: Ben Goldberg (Bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet), Nels Cline (electric guitar), Ron Miles (trumpet), and Dean Young (typewriter).
Released on Pyroclastic Records.
Music from Berkeley, California.
I wrote about this album for The Bandcamp Daily.
Cool album cover artwork by Spottswood Erving (which may be an alias for David Breskin).
Listen | Read more | Available at: Amazon – Bandcamp
By davesumner • Recap: Best of 2019 • 0 • Tags: Ben Goldberg, Berkeley (CA), Best Jazz of 2019, Nels Cline, Pyroclastic Records, Ron Miles