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Myra Melford has been a prominent figure in American jazz for the past 25 years, yet this is her first solo recording. And although her music has often reflected her interest in other art forms, from poetry to dance to architecture, I think this is the first project she has devoted to fine art. The music here is her response to the paintings and drawings of Californian artist Don Reich, who died in 2010. He was a close family friend and, she says, ‘an artistic inspiration for as long as I can remember’, so clearly this is a very personal and deeply felt album.

Melford and Reich had planned the project together but he died before she could complete the music, and her ruminations on his artworks are touched at times by a keen sense of loss, as with Red Land’s gently rocking grief or the tender farewell implicit in Still Life. Yet this is not a sad record overall. In her booklet note, Melford remarks on Reich’s ‘colorful and quirky sensibility’, and her music, with what she calls its ‘tendency towards lyricism, abstraction and rhythmic mobility’, certainly captures those qualities. From the playful sense of form evident in, say, Curtain, to Piano Music’s colourful acrobatics, the whirls and splatters of notes recall the rhythmic panache of Don Pullen as much as Reich’s jubilant zigzag chromaticism.

The booklet includes the relevant paintings and Melford’s piano is beautifully recorded. This is a wonderful and moving tribute from one artist to another.

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing