Sunday, December 16, 2007

Myriam Alter - Where Is There (Enja Records, 2007) ****

Although Myriam Alter is a fine piano-player, she prefers to leave the piano chair to someone else on this album, as on her previous one "If". This time Italian Salvatore Bonafede receives the honor. The other band members are as before : Greg Cohen on bass, Joey Baron on drums, and John Ruocco on clarinet, but adding Brazilian Jacques Morelenbaum on cello and Belgian Pierre Vaiana on soprano. With this band, she brings us again into beautiful melancholy territory, with lots of attention to musical detail, aesthetic subtleties, slight rhythm changes, and above all : a fragile and authentic sensitivity which is rare these days. The music itself is jazz, no doubt, chamber jazz to be more precise, but influenced by the whole tradition of European music, with Italian, Spanish, jewish, French elements in it.

Like on my review of her previous album the immediate comparision which also now came to mind is indeed Belgian chocolate : compact craftmanship, the result of centuries of tradition, with a sweet flavor, but deep, with each time a subtle surprise taste in bitterness.

The true difference with the previous album, is that here the melancholy is pushed even further, although there still are some joyful melodies to be hear as on "It Could Be There", but the addition of the Morelenbaum's wonderful cello gives even this joy a shade of melancholy. If you like the music of Anouar Brahem, you will also like this. It's the kind of music that for once will not chase the family members out of the room, it may even attract them.

You can buy from Enja Records or download from iTunes.


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