Pianist Myra Melford and clarinetist Ben Goldberg have an association that goes back a ways, and they’ve worked together in various groups and various projects, most recently for Goldberg’s recent grand opus, The Orphic Machine. Since 2008, they’ve also partnered as a duo and that’s finally led to a set of recordings with only the two performing.
Dialogue is a true meeting of the minds between musicians who value a lovely strain and places just as much value to go anywhere with it. Over thirteen radio-friendly length performances (if not exactly radio friendly commercial-wise, anyway) Melford and Goldberg each contribute originals that emphasize their remarkable telepathy. The unencumbered tête–à–tête between piano and clarinet calls to mind the one Art Pepper did with George Cables at the end of Pepper’s life but Dialogue is freer and looser. Nonetheless, it’s got the same personal feeling.
It’s so intimate, you can clearly hear Goldberg pressing the keys of his clarinet. From the start with the first song “An Unexpected Visitor,” we hear them sync telepathically, sometimes moving together and other times interacting sympathetically with other. And when the melody takes a turn — which can happen at any time — they turn with it intuitively and gracefully.
There are echoes of the jazz tradition such as the swing found in “9 + 5” and the show tune sensibilities of “Anymore”. However, these songs, eight from Melford and five from Goldberg, are for the most part not explicitly jazz; they seem conceived to facilitate open and probing conversations. Occasionally flowing in and out of dissonance with Melford even breaking out some Cecil Taylor a few times, but the two always perform with purpose, emotion and unity.
Dialogue went on sale January 15, 2016 through BAG Production Records. Look for upcoming live shows by Myra and Ben.
Ben Goldberg — clarinet
Myra Melford — piano, harmonium
01. An Unexpected Visitor
02. Your Life Here
03. The Kitchen
05. City of Illusion
06. Moonless Night
07. 1 Through 8
08. Be Melting Snow
09. Passing Phase
11. 9 + 5