This is music about the spaces between us. It's about the space where musicians meet, and a perfect moment in which all possibilities are suspended. It's also about the spaces between musical genres, where music really lives.
With the exception of the final track, all of the music on this recording was freely improvised. We spoke little about what we would play, waiting instead to realize the moments to begin and to end. These moments, and the spaces between them, are the key to the importance this music holds for us.
We recorded this album in a recital hall in the Canadian Rockies, under the watch of a pair of imposing mountains. We named many of the tracks after places in Alberta, Canada where I spent much of my life before decamping to wilder parts still, and after places in the Himalayas where both Myra and I have travelled. Naming music after geography is a trace of my abiding fascination with maps, diagrams, schemas and other marks on paper, and the way that they reveal as much as they conceal. It's also a way of representing the spaces each of us carries within us, and the different shapes they assume through time and travel.
For both of us, free improvisation is a process of discovery, and a practice of being open to all of the glorious, brutal, absurd and lovely things that life reveals. In documenting such moments on this record, and in creating them anew in performance, we invite people to share these spaces with us.
- Tanya Kalmanovitch
Myra Melford Bio:
From her first album in 1991, it was clear that this pianist and composer would stay around," the New York Times said of Myra Melford. Melford has not only stuck around, but she has flourished. She has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including nine as a leader, performed in more than 30 countries, won major awards for composition and piano performance, and worked with some of the world's most innovative musicians. Melford's staying power is the product of ceaseless musical travels; she's always going somewhere. As Francis Davis noted, "Myra Melford is the genuine article, the most gifted pianist/composer to emerge from jazz since Anthony Davis."
At the keyboard, Melford recasts the blues and boogie-woogie of her Chicago hometown, folds in elements of the music of Eastern Europe and India, and blends them with the rangy, percussive avant-garde stylings she cultivated in studies with Don Pullen and Henry Threadgill. This personal musical vocabulary is further enriched by a lush lyricism and organized by an architectural sense of composition that she derived from classical training.
Melford's remarkable breadth is ordered by a thoughtful, expressive sensibility, evocatively described by Coda Magazine: "Myra Melford is at once a dancer, a romantic and a savage sucker puncher at the bench . . . beating all hell out of the piano and making it beautiful."
In the early '90s Melford toured and recorded extensively with her acclaimed trio featuring Lindsey Horner on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums. Their 1993 recording Alive in the House of Saints was reissued by hat Art in 2001. In the late '90s, she led a quintet, The Same River, Twice, which featured trumpeters Dave Douglas or Cuong Vu, reedist Chris Speed, cellist Erik Friedlander, and drummer Michael Sarin. They recorded two albums, their self-titled debut on Gramavision (1996) and Above Blue (Arabesque, 1999).
Melford's ongoing search for new sounds and new directions in her music led her to the harmonium, a small hand-pump organ traditionally used in Indian and Pakistani classical and devotional music. Melford was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study North Indian music on the instrument with Sohanlal Sharma in Calcutta, where she was in residency from September 2000 through May 2001. The fruits of her studies are heard in some of her compositions for her groups The Tent and Be Bread.
In addition to leading her own ensembles for more than 15 years, Melford appears as a special guest on Jenny Scheinman's Shaligaster (Tzadik), Joseph Jarman's Lifetime Visions and Jarman's and Leroy Jenkins’ Out of the Mist (Ocean Records); Butch Morris' a Move (Sony) and Songs Out of My Trees (Soul Note); and Leroy Jenkins' Themes and Improvisations on the Blues (CRI).
Melford is also active in music education. She is currently Assistant Professor of Improvisation and Jazz in the Music Department at the University of California at Berkeley. Her course, "Current Trends in Jazz and Improvisation-based Musics--A Performance Workshop," allows students to explore the role of improvisation in contemporary jazz and creative music through performance. The course emphasizes developing the tools of an improviser as well as an aesthetic and critical knowledge of current practices. She earned a B.A. from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. She completed her studies with Art Lande and Gary Peacock at the Cornish Institute in Seattle, and in private study with Henry Threadgill and Don Pullen in New York City.
As Melford continues to turn musical corners with new instruments, inventive compositions, and further ensembles, you get the feeling that her artistry could still go anywhere. As Jazziz magazine noted, “The confidence to go so far into uncharted territory and the ability to carry listeners along--then bring them back--attest to Melford's vision.”
Tanya Kalmanovitch Bio:
Born in Fort McMurray, Alberta, violist and violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch inhabits the spaces between modern jazz, classical music and free improvisation. Actively performing in New York City since 2004, she has been named “Best New Talent” by All About Jazz New York, while Time Out New York identified her as “the Juilliard-trained violist who’s been tearing up the scene”.
Tanya’s debut recording with her quartet Hut Five was hailed by the Montreal Gazette as “an exceptional recording, one of the more engaging recordings heard in some time” and was garnished with a number of stars by DownBeat magazine.
Tanya has performed in Europe and North America with a diverse range of artists including Mark Turner, Benoît Delbecq, Mark Helias, Dominique Pifarély, Andy Laster, Tom Rainey, Ernst Reijseger, Mat Maneri, The Turtle Island String Quartet, Martin Hayes, John Cage and Shujaat Husain Khan. She has traveled frequently to India where she has studied Karnatic music with violinist Lalgudi G. J. R. Krishnan and veena player Karaikudi S. Subramanian while conducting doctoral dissertation research on jazz exotica.
Tanya is a member of the faculty of the department of Creative Improvisation at Boston’s New England Conservatory, and teaches regularly at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London UK and the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag NL. She frequently presents workshops on improvisation for string players, classical musicians, jazz musicians, and musicians in general in the Netherlands, Ireland, the United States, and the Czech Republic.
She is a founding member of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, a collective of ten independent bandleaders based in New York City. She is also the Canadian representative to the International Association of Schools of Jazz, a founding member of the Jazz String Caucus of the International Association for Jazz Education, and a mentor to the Sisters in Jazz Program.
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