Myra Melford's Fire & Water Quintet
From the texts of Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano to canvases of Sacramento painter Don Reich to the cuisine of Oakland chef Paul Canales, visionary pianist Myra Melford has drawn inspiration from a far-flung array of sources.
Her new supergroup Fire and Water, which brings together an extraordinary array of women who are all composers and bandleaders in their own right, reflects Melford’s deep engagement with the mysteriously poetical paintings of the late Cy Twombly (1928–2011). Featuring guitarist and MacArthur Fellow Mary Halvorson, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Lesley Mok, the quintet is as protean and unpredictable as its name suggests. The band’s new album, For the Love of Fire and Water, takes its name from a series of Twombly paintings that combine his trademark color fields, kinetic scribbles and calligraphic texts.
A longtime professor of music and improvisation at UC Berkeley, Melford is known for gathering singular improvisers into evocatively titled bands. Fire and Water first came together for a sold-out June 2019 performance at The Stone, where “the chemistry was evident right from the first note,” Melford said.