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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Jan 26, 2012

February is the month when the Northampton Center for the Arts in Northampton, MA traditionally celebrates the art of jazz in a series of solo piano concerts by modern masters. In celebration of creative music, they will present “A World of Piano: 3 Jazz Masters” and welcome Satoko Fujii (February 3), Myra Melford (February 10) and Angelica Sanchez (February 17), all of whom have established international careers and who represent a broad range of approaches to the piano. The concerts, produced by Glenn Siegel of WMUA 91.1 FM, have become special community occasions for audiences to broaden their exposure to rich traditions and contemporary innovations in jazz music.

I spoke with Myra Melford as she prepared for another semester at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has developed and taught a series of courses in contemporary jazz and improvisation-based music for performers and composers.. This seems to complete a circle of sorts, as though she studied classical piano into her teens, she had no real exposure to jazz until her college days. Improvisation rekindled her early love of the piano, and she plunged in to develop a signature style, recasting the blues and boogie-woogie of her native Chicago, with  elements of the music of Eastern Europe and India, and a rangy, percussive avant-garde approach  A Fulbright scholar, she studied North Indian music on the harmonium with Sohanlal Sharma in Calcutta, from September 2000 through May 2001.

We chatted about her disparate styles and varying performing groups, which range from quintets to trios to solo piano. Click here to listen to our talk, including musical selections such as:

Myra Melford Trio – “This That Way” from Now & Now. Myra has led several trios, this one from 1991. The band is Myra Melford, piano; Lindsey Horner, bass; and  Reggie Nicholson, drums.

Myra Melford’s Be Bread –“Be Bread“from The Image of Your Body. An eclectic gathering of musciains, including Pat metheney Group member Cuong Vu gives this group a sound that defttly mixes Eastern and Western overtones. Myra Melford, piano and harmonium; Stomu Takeishi, electric & acoustic bass guitar, and electronics ; Elliot Humberto Kavee, drums ; Brandon Ross, electric guitar, banjo & voice and Cuong Vu, trumpet, and electronics.

The Same River, Twice – “Drawing in the Dark (A Prayer for Peace in the Balkans)” from The Same River, Twice. This quartet is a vertible who's who of the New York avant-garde: Dave Douglas, trumpet,; Erik Friedlander, cello; Myra Melford, piano; Michael Sarin, drums; and Chris Speed, tenor saxophone, Bb clarinet.

Myra Melford’s Be Bread – “A Generation Comes and Another Goes” from The Whole Tree Gone. Be Bread may be the most consistnetly interesting of Myra's groups, particularly this edition, featuring Myra on piano ; Cuong Vu on trumpet ; Ben Goldberg on clarinet and contra-alto clarinet ; Brandon Ross  on guitar; Stomu Takeishi on acoustic bass guitar; and Matt Wilson on drums

“A World of Piano: 3 Jazz Masters” will be presented on Friday, February 3,10 and 17, 7:30 PM at the Northampton Center for the Arts (Map) Tickets: $15/general admission, $40/entire series, $10/students. Available online at Brown Paper Tickets or sold at the door. The series is made possible by support from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.