Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret




myra resThis is gripping music. Pianist Myra Melford may have penned all the compositions, but the members of Snowy Egret fly them to places of which she probably never dreamed. The intensity is unrelenting. Even when it’s in the form of lyrical beauty rather than ferocious energy, that beauty is as dazzling as a butterfly’s wing caught by the sun: just listen, for instance, to Melford’s piano on Chorale. When a groove emerges it is always enigma-laden, courtesy of bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi and especially drummer Tyshawn Sorey, a genuine revolutionary who shapes up as the most important practitioner on his instrument since Paul Motian.

And the excitement doesn’t stop there. Guitarist Liberty Ellman and cornetist Ron Miles have both been distinctive, innovative improvisers for years, and this band presents them with wide-open fields of creativity upon which to play. A highlight is the textural interaction, as when the ensemble plays for an extended period with miniaturized, muffled or prepared sounds on Attic, and then like topping a rise, and seeing a whole new vista, they enter a slow-motion world in which the trumpet cries out its heartbreaking lament.