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Myra Melford/Marty Ehrlich: Yet Can Spring

Pianist Myra Melford can play with subtle grace or emphatic passion, and her group The Same River Twice ranks among the finest true units; its musicians truly listen to each other and interact, rather than wait for requisite breaks and solos. Reedist Marty Ehrlich doesn’t have quite as big a reputation as some other musicians who handle several horns, but it’s not due to any deficiency on his part. Ehrlich’s a wonderful clarinetist and bass clarinetist, and a cagey saxophonist as well. Together Melford and Ehrlich have made the ultimate duet recording with Yet Can Spring. The CD features sizzling individual moments, thoughtful unison segments and eight thoroughly delightful numbers-three each from Melford and Ehrlich and one from Robin Holcomb, plus an unusual cover of blues great Otis Spann’s “Don’t You Know.”

Yet Can Spring moves nicely from fast-paced to gentle selections. The opening title tune sets the stage, with Melford’s stunning opening questions, Ehrlich’s complementary answers and truly marvelous cooperative sections. Melford’s playing isn’t as edgy as when heading her group, but it is still outstanding. She can respond to a fierce Ehrlich lead or take the piece in another direction without losing any momentum in the process. Ehrlich’s contributions are just as pivotal; he’s unconcerned with anything except maintaining the integrity and spirit of the composition. His improvising is neither excessive nor filled with empty posturing; he plays exuberant, thoughtful solos and responses to Melford’s nimble performing.

The album’s closing selection displays another side of Melford and Ehrlich. They sound like they’re in church during the early part of “Don’t You Know,” but by the end they’ve moved to the bar, especially Melford, who shows she’s no stranger to heartache with some dark, compelling concluding lines.

Yet Can Spring is alternately striking, inviting and hypnotic. It represents another triumph for two outstanding musicians.

Originally Published