On her upcoming album, pianist Myra Melford exits one sprightly free-jazz episode--fllled with darting tone clusters and colliding cross-rhythms--by establishing a groove and texture reminiscent of the youthful Keith Jarrett. Throw in her blues training at the piano of Chicago's Erwin Helfer, and you gain a sense of the diverse elements Melford has incorporated into her powerful style. Like any pianist who combines busy dissonances and blistering technique, Melford has elicited specious comparisons to Cecil Taylor. But Melford makes quite original use of the vocabulary introduced by Taylor; for this and other reasons, she has steadily emerged as an important artist in her own right. Melford has crafted a writerly concept for her trio, but the carefully structured compositions flower into uninhibited musical freedom; as a result, her most ferocious full-keyboard assaults always emerge organically. Melford's concept demands collaborators who can handle her music's shifting needs--who possess the intuition needed for free improvisation but who can also anchor the frankly romantic sections of her music. Bassist Lindsey Horner and drummer Reggie Nicholson succeed with honors, coloring and charging the music with unusual insight. The trio's terrific new album, Alive in the House of the Saints, won't arrive till fall, but they'll offer an advance glance at some of its music in their Chicago sets. Friday, 8:30 and 10:30 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Wowe.