Friday, September 21, 2007

Marty Ehrlich & Myra Melford - Spark! (Palmetto, 2007) ****


Six years after "Yet Can Spring", Myra Melford (piano) and Marty Ehrlich (sax) release a long-awaited new album, and from the very first notes of "Hymn", the bluesy joy jumps out of the music, setting the tone for the rest of the album : precise phrasing, deep emotions, great interplay and lots of attention to tonal quality. The second piece is more meditative, starting with a romantic piano introduction of Melford, over which Ehrlich starts weaving some dark, melancholy notes, reminiscent of John Surman, but with even more soul : heart-rendingly beautiful. The third track is again more joyful, mediterranean-sounding, with rhytmic and melodic changes, nice long-winding unisono lines, yet leaving space for interesting solo flights. "For Leroy" starts like chamber music but quickly adds a touchy deep blues expression to it, highlighting both musicians' sense of pace, allowing the composition to get its full emotional flavor, moving back then to Melford's crystal clear almost classical piano-playing at the center of the track, which suddenly shifts into a bluesy rhythm and tone inviting Ehrlich back into the music : gorgeous! And once you think things are becoming too polished, "Up Do" begins, with unexpected twists and turns, from funky to abstract to free. That is the truly best thing about this record : both musicians are also excellent composers, with a broad background in musical styles and creative ideas on how to use them in a very functional modern way. Sometimes a little too mellow for my taste, but still, a deep-felt, wonderful album.

Listen to
Hymn
A Generation Comes And Another Generation Goes

You can download the CD from the Palmetto website