Rightly so, the centerpiece of the album is the title track, an invigorating admixture of moods, moments and movements that includes elements of free jazz, blues, new music and, for the truly imaginative, a kind of ambience that only these three musicians could’ve come up with. Melford’s title track manages to combine all these elements and leave the listener with a mild sense of shock as they wonder whether they’ve just been in on an intimate conversation meant for just the original three sets of ears. Such is the power and unexpected magic of Big Picture. On the edge of everything, the trio somehow manages, on the next cut, for example, to bring a sense of the familiar, some swing even, with Dresser’s “Modern Pine.” As befits Big Picture, this song sashays between a mildly insistent 4/4 swing feel on into and out of a swinging waltz. Wilson’s delicate stick work is always on the mark but never obtrusive. Melford’s subtle passages are buttressed by her forceful, almost violent eloquence. And Dresser provided the delicate glue through it all.
As an ambitious composer/pianist, Myra Melford emerged during the late “80s and early “90s. Echoing the style of her late mentor Don Pullen, Melford has been able to combine a unique blend of percussive energy with an attractive blues sensibility. Also reflected in her style are such diverse influences/teachers as boogie-woogie pianist Erwin Helfer and Art Lande. En route to Trio M, Melford has played with, among many others, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris and Leroy Jenkins. A significant trio, she brought together drummer Reggie Nicholson and bassist Lindsey Horner in the early ’90s. She is also a regular collaborator with Dave Douglas, who has worked with her Same River, Twice band
Mark Dresser, on the music scene since 1972, has been all over the map, literally, playing free jazz with L.A.’s Black Music Infinity group, classical music with the San Diego Symphony, continuing on to becoming a member of the pioneering Anthony Braxton’s late ‘80s New York group. Others the bassist has worked with include Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Fred Frith, Gerry Hemingway, John Zorn, Hank Roberts and Dave Douglas. Notable group work includes the Arcado String Trio and Europe’s WDR Big Band. Current projects involve work with Andrew Cyrille, Marty Ehrlich and Mark Helias. Dresser continues as a professor of music at the University of California San Diego.
Matt Wilson, winner of the 2007 DownBeat Rising Star Drummer Award, was out of the box with his debut recording as a leader, a 1996 set for Palmetto Records that featured regular collaborator/late saxophonist Dewey Redman. In 1987 Wilson moved to Boston, where he worked with Either/Orchestra and the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet. Since then, he has settled in New York, where collaborations have included work with, among others, Lee Konitz, Tim Hagans, Bill Mays and Cecil McBee. Wilson currently leads his highly inventive Arts & Crafts band.