| Myra Melford Quartet "Be Bread"
Myra Melford - piano, harmonium
Cuong Vu - trumpet
Stomu Takeishi - bass
Elliot Humberto Kavee - drums
The inspiration for this group comes from a poem by Rumi (The Image of Your Body):
"If you've not been fed, be bread."
Be Bread is a natural outgrowth of Myra Melford's recent studies and organically incorporates the music she absorbed in India Melford, an extraordinarily generous pianist, composer and bandleader, continues in BE BREAD to express her music for everyone in fresh, spirited and newly succinct and simple compositions that integrate Indo/pakistani, middle eastern, jazz, blues, jungle and improv influences. As with her acclaimed bands The Same River, Twice and Crush, Myra makes large-sounding music with a small ensemble, creating movements of melody, rhythm, harmony and timbre that have both microtonal nuances and sweeping effects.
"Myra Melford is the genuine article, the most gifted pianist/composer to emerge from jazz since Anthony Davis."
Francis Davis, Stereo Review
"In the next millenium, jazz will be based on personal vocabularies like Melford's, drawing on, but also radically adapting, blues, swing, and a breadth of other 'traditional' qualities. It will still be 'jazz' if its players interact as they do here, closely and for singular effect, with expressive intent behind their virtuosic performances."
Howard Mandel, Jazziz
"Melford can be rhythmic, romantic, stoic, wry, and lusty but most of all daring - all in one tune. More importantly she's reconnected music to motion, leaving today's straightlaced young men in suits, who have dominated recent jazz, in her wake."
Stuart Nicholson, The London Observer
Myra Melford is a New York-based pianist and composer. Since her first recording in 1990, Melford has performed in over 30 countries and won major awards for composition and piano performance, As a composer, Melford has been noted for a "commitment to refreshing, often surprising uses of melody, harmony and ensemble playing"; as a bandleader, she's demonstrated a "career-long knack of choosing players who make smaller ensembles sound full and intricate as an orchestra."
Reuben Jackson, NPR
As Melford continues to turn musical corners with new instruments, inventive compositions, and further ensembles, you get the feeling that her artistry could still go anywhere. As Jazziz magazine noted, "The confidence to go so far into uncharted territory and the ability to carry listeners along, and then bring them back - attest to Melford's vision."
Myra Melford - piano
"From her first album in 1991, it was clear that this pianist and composer would stay around," the New York Times said of Myra Melford. Melford has not only stuck around but flourished over the past decade, with performances in over 30 countries, major awards for composition and piano performance, and work with some of the world's most innovative musicians. Melford's staying power is the product of ceaseless musical travels: she's always going somewhere. As Francis Davis noted, "Myra Melford is the genuine article, the most gifted pianist/composer to emerge from jazz since Anthony Davis."
At the keyboard, Melford recasts the blues and boogie-woogie of her Chicago hometown with the rangy, percussive avant-garde stylings she cultivated in work with Don Pullen and Henry Threadgill - all enhanced by lush lyricism and organized by an architectural sense of composition she derived from classical training.
Melford's remarkable breadth is ordered by a thoughtful, expressive sensibility, evocatively described by Coda Magazine: "Myra Melford is at once a dancer, a romantic and a savage suckerpuncher at the bench . . .beating all hell out of the piano and making it beautiful."
In the early '90s Melford toured and recorded extensively with her acclaimed trio featuring Lindsey Horner on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums. Their 1993 recording Alive in the House of Saints has been reissued, with previously unreleased tracks, by Hat Art in late 2001, and is, again, receiving rave reviews.
In the late 90's, her projects included leading the stellar The Same River, Twice, an acoustic improvising chamber ensemble and Crush an electro-acousitic trio/quartet both of which have made critically acclaimed recordings.
In the fall of 2001 she turned her attention to a new ensemble, The Tent, a flexible pool of players which toured both as a quintet in Europe and as a drummerless trio of piano/harmonium, bass, trumpet and electronics, in the U.S. and Canada. This band is scheduled to record in April 2003 for Arabesque.
Recently Melford began applying her drive for innovation to the harmonium, a small hand-pump organ traditionally used in Indian and Pakistani classical and devotional music. Melford was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study North Indian music on the instrument in Calcutta, where she was in residency from September, 2000 through May, 2001.
Her newest project, Be Bread, a quartet featuring Cuong Vu on trumpet, Stomu Takeishi on electric and acoustic bass guitar and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums and percussion, is a natural outgrowth of her recent studies and organically incorporates the music she absorbed in India. In addition, she's a member of two collective ensembles, a duo with reedist Marty Ehrlich and Equal Interest a trio with Leroy Jenkins and Joseph Jarman.
As Melford continues to turn musical corners with new instruments, inventive compositions, and further ensembles, you get the feeling that her artistry could still go anywhere. As Jazziz magazine noted, "The confidence to go so far into uncharted territory and the ability to carry listeners along, then bring them back - attest to Melford's vision."
As a guest artist, Melford appears on Joseph Jarman's recent release Lifetime Visions and Jarman's and Leroy Jenkins' Out of the Mist (Ocean Records); Butch Morris' Testament (New World Records); Henry Threadgill's Makin' a Move (Sony); and Leroy Jenkins' Themes and Improvisations on the Blues (CRI).
Myra Melford - Awards
Melford was awarded a Fulbright sholarship to study North Indian music on the harmonium in Calcutta, where she was in residency from September, 2000 through May, 2001. As a composer, Melford has received numerous commissions, most recently from the Steirische Kulturinitiative (2000) for the multimedia project, "My Face of Us All" with a butoh dancer, an architect and videographer and from the British Arts Council (1999) for a nonet comprised of Equal Interest and 6 British musicians. Previous commissions include the dance-theater score "My House Was Collapsing to One Side," premiered at Dance Theater Workshop New York City in 1996; and "D Train," an evening-length score for the Fay Simpson Dance Theater.
Melford is the recipient of two Arts International Grants to perform at foreign festivals, three Composition Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as commissioning grants from the Mary Flager Cary Charitable Trust and Meet the Composer. Down Beat Critics' polls honored Melford as "talent-deserving-wider-recognition" as a pianist in 1995, '94, '92, and '91, and as a composer as well as a pianist in 2001, 2000, '99, '98 and '97. In 1995 she was featured on Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz" broadcast on National Public Radio.
Cuong Vu - trumpet
Considered to be "one of the most distinctive stylists on New York's Downtown music scene" (Downbeat, March 1998), Cuong Vu has been garnering rave reviews as one of the leaders of a new generation of innovative musicians.
Most recently he was mentioned as one of the top 50 young Jazz Artists in an article called "The New Masters" from the British magazine, "Classic CD".
Since moving to New York in 1994, Cuong has been quite active leading his groups JackHouse, Scratcher, Vu-tet, and the Cuong Vu trio. It has been with these groups that he has been breaking new musical ground by developing his own unique language in both his improvisations and compositions.
Cuong began playing the trumpet at the age of 11, five years after emigrating to Seattle, WA from Vietnam. His intense dedication and love for music led him to a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz studies with a distinction in performance. While at NEC, Cuong was greatly influenced by saxophonist Joe Maneri who led him to search for his own sound that not only emphasized originality but also pushed the established sonority and role of the trumpet into areas that he hadn’t explored. In addition to Maneri, Cuong was also influenced by the contemporary classical music he encountered at NEC from which he found new forms and textures to apply to his playing and writing.
Since his arrival in New York, Cuong has toured internationally and in the states as well as performing regularly as a leader and a side-man in the "downtown creative music" scene. He has performed and/or recorded with Pat Metheny, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Mitchell Froom, Cibo Matto, Chris Speed, Dave Douglas, Gerry Hemingway, Myra Melford, Dougie Bowne and Holly Palmer. In addition to his many collaborations, Cuong released two recordings as a leader in 2000, "Bound" (OmniTone) and "Pure" (Knitting Factory Records), both are among the top ten picks for best album of 2000 (Jazziz, May 2001). His most recent CD, "Come Play With Me" was also picked among the top 5 releases of 2001 (Jazztimes, May 2002).
Cuong Vu was six when his family left their home in Vietnam and moved to Seattle, Washington. When he was 11 his mother gave him a trumpet to satisfy his musical curiosities, which led to relentless practice sessions and eventually a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music.
While at NEC, Vu encountered saxophonist/composer Joe Maneri, who encouraged him to take a path that led into unknown regions that emphasize originality and personal concepts of what music is. For Cuong, this path included searching for his own sound by pushing the established sonority and role of the trumpet into areas that hadn’t been vastly explored, as well as finding new forms, textures, and approaches to every improvisation.
Though he received his BM in jazz studies, Vu was exposed to classical and post-modern classical music at the conservatory. He fell in love with the music of Beethoven, Schoenberg, Lutoslawski and Liget?, to name a few. Embracing all of the music that has shaped him from childhood until now, Vu has funneled these influences, filtering them into a unique language and voice in both his playing and writing.
Vu now resides in New York. He is in demand as a sideman, yet is more recognized as a leader with his bands JACKhouse, Scratcher (featuring Holly Palmer), and VU-TET (featuring Jim Black, Curtis Hasselbring, Chris Speed and Stomu Takeishi). Recording and performances have included stints with Dave Douglas, Gerry Hemingway, Dougie Bowne, Bobby Previte, Mark Helias, Chris Speed, Andy Laster, Ken Schaphorst and Orange Then Blue.
Current, Vu is out on the road with the Pat Metheny Group, not only playing, but singing as well.
Stomu Takeishi - bass guitar
Born in Mito, Japan in 1964, Stomu TAKEISHI came to the US in 1983 to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Upon completion of his degree in 1986, he moved to Manhattan to continue his studies at the New School. He has lived in New York City ever since.
Performed and recorded with:
Don Cherry, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris Dave Liebmann, Mick Goodrick, Paul Motian, Myra Melford, Cuong Vu, Badal Roy, David Tronzo, Erik Friedlander, Harriet Tubman trio, Satoko Fujii, Andy Laster, Patrick Zimmerli, Jon Rosenberg, Natsuki Tamura, Curtis Hasselbring, Oscar Noriega, Briggan Kraus, Dave Ballou, Aaron Alexander, Badal Roy, Joey Sellers, Laurent Brondel, Joe Fiedler, Luiz Bueno, Ken Butler, Dave Castiglione, Tony Malaby.
Stomu Takeishi has played electric fret-less bass in a variety of jazz settings throughout the '90s and 2000s. A member of Myra Melford's Crush Trio (with drummer Kenny Wollesen), and Erik Friedlander's Topaz (with brother Satoshi Takeishi on percussion), Stomu Takeishi has also played in trumpeter Cuong Vu's group Vu-Tet, and in the North Indian-influenced Alankar. Takeishi performs on Satoko Fujii's album, South Wind, and has played with such musicians as Henry Threadgill, Don Cherry, Randy Brecker, and Wynton Marsalis.
Over the twenty years that he has resided in the US, Stomu Takeishi’s reputation as a talented and innovative bass player has earned him features in many international jazz festivals. He is well known in the jazz scene in New York, and often plays at major well-known venues in NYC, the US and in Europe.
Press On Stomu Takeishi
Bill Milkowski, "Bass Player" Magazine
Like a white-water rafter going over the falls, Stomu Takeishi is at his best when jumping headlong into another daring improvisation-taking chances and breaking the rules. Since arriving in New York in 1986, Takeishi has been the choice bassist for numerous adventurous composer/improvisers on the city’s Downtown jazz scene. Whether he’s rumbling subliminally, offering melodic counterpoint, or spontaneously composing with real-time looping, Stomu emphasizes space rather than chops and hearing rather than riffing.
Prized for his combination of forceful execution, high sensitivity, and sense of daring, Stomu has been tapped by forward-thinking bandleaders such as, among others, saxophonist Henry Threadgill, conductor Butch Morris, drummer Paul Motian, slide guitarist David Tronzo, trumpeter Cuong Vu, and pianist Myra Melford. All have come to rely on him to deliver much more than just covering the root and walking on the low end. "I approach it as if I’m the one who composed the music," says Takeishi. "I try to understand the compositions from the inside out, how they work, and what I can do with them. One thing I learned from Henry Threadgill was to come up with a game plan of how you’re going to deal with those harmonies and rhythms. But you also have to go by ear, so that whenever you hear something that intrigues you, even if it’s against your game plan, you go for it. Don’t trust your plan-trust what you hear in the moment."
Equipped with remarkable facility on his fretless electric and acoustic Klein 5-strings, Takeishi follows the music’s flow and dynamics wherever they might lead and reacts accordingly. If the band builds to a shrieking crescendo, he may pound the strings with his fist. If he’s playing with instruments like harmonium and tablas, he might bring it down to a whisper and caress the strings, chording or gently palm-muting and thumb-plucking…
Elliot Humberto Kavee - drums
Elliot Humberto Kavee specializes in new works for music and theater. He has performed/recorded new music with Francis Wong, Omar Sosa, Joseph Jarman, Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Ben Goldberg, John Tchicai, Glenn Horiuchi, Jon Raskin, Elliot Sharp, Tim Berne, Jon Jang, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer and his own projects.
A prolific recording artist, Elliot has played on over 40 critically acclaimed recordings. For his debut recording as a leader (on eliasound records) "he issued a noteworthy self-titled album that remarkably avoided the pitfalls of the solo format. not only did kavee make his skin and metallic percussion instruments sing by effecting a polytimbral/polyrhythmic approach, he further mixed up the program by doubling on cello. (Yes: drums and strings, one player, at the same time.)" - Sam Prestianni. The CD appeared on three top-ten lists in the San Francisco Bay Guardian's "Best CDs of 1997".
In 1999, he did six solo concerts in New York, San Francisco and France. Elliot Humberto Kavee was a musician, composer, musical director, actor and writer with the tony award-winning San Francisco mime troupe for seven years, co-creating seven original musical plays about relevant political topics.
He remains the only musical director in the group's 42 year history to win a dramalogue award. During the same period he was the drummer of choice among the bay area's most gifted creative musicians at the highpoint of the 90's san francisco new jazz scene. He co-led frame, a highly respected quartet with Eric Crystal, Dave Macnab and Hillel Familant.
He was a percussionist, cellist and composer with the club foot orchestra. His work is featured in the score to G.W. Pabst's Pandora Box (performed at the San Francisco Film Festival and at Lincoln Center) and accompanying CBS' "The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat".
His collaboration with asian-american jazz pioneer Francis Wong has yielded over a dozen recordings and countless performances. As a founding member of the groundbreaking Omar Sosa Sextet, Kavee recorded five CDs and toured the world several times over the past six years.
Currently based in Brooklyn, Kavee performs regularlarly at major jazz festivals throughout the world and at top clubs in New York City. His 2002 season includes work with Henry Threadgill's Zooid, the Omar Sosa Septet, Gathering of Ancestors, the Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet and Fieldwork. He co-leads Fieldwork with Aaron Stewart and Vijay Iyer; their debut for PI Recordings hits the streets this October.
© Jûratë Kuèinskaitë