Lisa Cay Miller

682/681
Trytone TT 559-07

By Ken Waxman

Like sections of a résumé designed to highlight the applicant’s skills in challenging situations, 681/682 is a combination showcase-calling card for Vancouver composer/pianist Lisa Cay Miller. Recorded in one day-long session, the disc features Miller matching tones and techniques with 10 Amsterdam-based improvisers in duo or trio configurations. Although the 22 [!] meetings confirm her ability and adaptability, overall the few extended tracks provide more musical nourishment than the briefer foretastes.

For instance the concluding “Onno, Wilbert” with bassist Wilbert DeJoode and drummer Onno Govaert serves up a perfect (night) club sandwich of sliding keyboard tones, clip-clop percussion rolls and buzzing bass drones that would fit on the menu of any jazz spot. Moving from club to chamber, “Ig”, the pianist’s duet with violist Ig Henneman, contrasts accelerating sharp string spiccato with high-frequency but percussive keyboard chording to slot these improvisations within New music. Fully conversant with electronics as a composer and a member of the NOW orchestra, Miller manipulates flattened key stops on “Mark, Jasper” to corral guitar flanges from Mark Morse and Jasper Stadhouders respectively, and in the process becomes part of a constantly moving buoyant narrative. Miller also finagles complementary structures out of the vigorous multiphonics and near cacophony on “John” featuring tenor saxophonist John Dikeman and “Mark” with Morse, as she mutes reed slurs on the first by sneaking up on the saxophonist’s explosive outpourings with pedal propelled power; or twangs enough inner string clashes and scratches to blend with guitar chording on the second.

Although similar instances of sterling cooperation with other players’ distinctively conceived concepts on the CD could be cited, it would be like reading mouth-watering descriptions of individual entrées on a menu. What the CD actually does is build up hunger for a more extensive musical feast featuring Miller’s playing and composing. Appreciate 682/681 as a selection of appetizers to savor Miller’s skills and hope that a full-course musical meal – possibly with some of these same collaborators – is next up on her bill of fare.

-A MusicWorks.ca exclusive Review Spotlight