In the same way avant-garde classical composers have had to explain their music is part of the continuing lineage in the historical movement of their art, notice how many of the atonal pieces composed with "Suite" titles like "Sarabande" and "Gigue" during the early part of the 20th century, so also have jazz artists who push the bounds of their work. For jazz musicians, however, the proof is in the choice of co-collaborators and the body of their lifetime’s work. For both pianist Myra Melford and violist/violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch, the lineage couldn’t be stronger.
Melford, long a herald of the forward-thinking jazz movement, has led an assemblage of various ensembles over the years which have uniformly been outstanding. Most of her recordings as a leader routinely show up on critics’ year-end "Best CDs of the Year" lists. Kalmanovitch is a member of the faculty of the department of Creative Improvisation at New England Conservatory in Boston, a regular instructor at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag, Netherlands and the summer school of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She is a founding board member of the Jazz String Caucus of the International Association for Jazz Education, has served as a member of the 2007 Alternative Styles committee of the American String Teachers Association and is the Canadian representative to the International Association of Schools of Jazz.
On Heart Mountain the two artists have created a disc full of the wonder, beauty and sheer audacity that only the best free jazz is possible of. The fact this music sounds so close to the atonal music of the early 20th century points not only to the shared classical music backgrounds of each artist, but also to jazz’s universal ability to bring so many different types of music into the fold. Highlights include the rapturous interplay between Melford’s rapid motivic development underneath Kalmanovitch’s sustained ending statements in "Kaligandhaki," the wild abandon of "Into a Gunnysack and into the Kootenay River," and the haunting imagery of "Medicine Lake." The rest of the 16 other pieces run the gamut from small trinkets of exquisite beauty, as on "The Kid on the Mountain," to the astoundingly logical development of "Cave and Basin."
Classical music lovers should be required to own this disc as they will be rewarded in ways so much of today’s new classical music lacks. For the jazz aficionado, the history of these artists has probably already put this disc on their must-have list; thankfully it really is that good.