Ear Shot: The Music of Mel Graves

Fluency is a constant throughout Ear Shot’s The Music of Mel Graves (Mutable). As a bassist, Graves mostly steers from the backseat; as a composer he favors odd time signatures and cascading melodic figures. His chief partners in this venture are flutist Bob Afifi and saxophonist Harvey Wainapel, who provide most of the album’s solo statements. The remainder of Graves’ septet operates as a loose unit, animating and inhabiting his tunes. Altogether, it’s a solid effort, conveying a prismatic quality-a sense, in other words, of viewing an object, or hearing a theme, from a multitude of angles. This, it turns out, is the album’s only real fault as well; problems arise as it progresses, revealing a sameness in tone from song to song. Graves-whose last album, a song cycle inspired by Pablo Neruda, incorporated elements of modern chamber music-could only benefit by similarly varying his more straightahead fare.