Misha Alperin's hourlong suite Night has been performed exactly once, five years ago at the VossaJazz Festival in Norway with the composer at the piano, Anja Lechner playing the cello and H.K. Kjos Sorensen handling percussion and marimba. An ECM crew was there to capture the performance.
Alperin conceives of night as "those hours when you don't need to prove anything to the world, when self-presentation subsides," and the eight pieces here each explore some aspect of this idea. Not all of them are meditative: "Tango," with its skittish snare and quirky harmonies, takes a new angle on an old melancholy, while "Second Game" makes a unexpectedly giddy whirlwind out of a minimalist groove.
But most of these pieces are full of space and silence and sadness. The title track marks out its space with a persistent percussion click that makes the pale piano chords and bare melodic cell in the cello even more affecting, and "Far, Far..." the final track, pushes an almost naive melody into nobility with Lechner's luminous playing. Perhaps most memorable, though, is "Tuesday," the first piece in the suite, which develops a fluid, poignant melody with a total lack of fuss or display.