Along with an all-star ensemble bringing together five of the leading voices in contemporary improvised music—guitarist Mary Halvorson, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Lesley Mok—visionary pianist Myra Melford taps into the elemental nature of inspiration for her exhilarating new project, Fire and Water. All five women are innovative composers and bandleaders in their own rights as well as being gifted and venturesome improvisers, providing this ensemble a myriad of pathways to explore. Melford has taken full advantage of these uniquely expansive possibilities, crafting a suite of new music that fluidly traverses the borders between notated composition and guided improvisation.
Fire and Water draws inspiration from Melford’s ongoing engagement with the iconoclastic work of the late visual artist Cy Twombly. The band’s name pays homage to the artist’s “For the Love of Fire and Water,” a series that combines his trademark vibrant scribbles and scrawled calligraphic texts. Melford senses an affinity between her own work and Twombly’s “sense of curiosity and play, and his unbridled energy that just jumps off the page.” That spirit animates the instigative music that she has penned for Fire and Water. The group initially came together for a sold-out performance at New York’s The Stone, in June 2019, where, the pianist remembers, “the chemistry was evident right from the first note. I’ve wanted to revisit this constellation of players ever since.”
“This feels like the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Melford.” —DownBeat
“… a master in the art of wringing sound out of color and line.” —Nate Chinen (WBGO)
“Each player’s actions align with the artistic acts and natural phenomena that gave the project its name, which ensures that even the music’s stormiest moments feel very much in tune.” —The Quietus