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Myra Melford/Han Bennink: Eleven Ghosts

On Eleven Ghosts, pianist Myra Melford and percussionist Han Bennink bring complementary assets to a free-ranging duo program. Melford’s affinity for the blues and her compositional skills give the album a subtle structural underpinning. Bennink continually pushes the music to the brink with his patented combination of cyclonic energy and loony humor (“To whom am I expressing myself?” he croons midway through a bracing solo). Their banter throughout the album is crisp, but not too sharply edged, as Bennink frequently prods the pianist to some of her most daring work on disc, and Melford just as often draws the drummer into the pocket. There is an overarching sense of good fun to the date, reflected by the inclusion of “Some Relief,” “Maple Leaf Rag,” and a couple of blues vehicles. Yet, there is enough point-blank intensity to at least whet the hard core appetite.

Bennink contends that about 45 minutes is the optimum length for a disc of improvised music-that is, if you want to leave them wanting more. Eleven Ghosts proves him right.

Originally Published