(131) Bill Meyer, Downbeat -- December 2006

Myra Melford is ever in search of new stimulation. She composed this music after studying the harmonium in India, which left a deep impression. Many of the album's best moments come from when she abandons the piano to squeeze out drones on the harmonium. It provides a billowing backdrop to Cuong Vu's brooding melody on the opener, "Equal Grace," and blends with Brandon Ross's Eastern-tinged banjo plucking on the title cut. She even puts it to rhythmic use on "Be Bread," grounding the airy lattice of Elliot Humberto Kavee's percussive fingers.

By comparison, Melford seem uncertain what sort of an album she wants to make when she returns to her original keyboard. She opens and closes "Yellow are Crowds of Flowers, ii" with a figure so fussy you want to give it a Swiffer and have it dust your living room floor. They have nothing to do with the tumultuous clusters she plays in between them, and the two approaches cancel each other out rather than offering an intriguing contrast. Melford conceived these compositions as quartet music, but she did not tether them to specific instrumentation. To prove the point, he's split the album between Vu and Ross. The strategy yields mixed results; both players sound their best when they decide not to play it straight. Some ruthless editing would have made The Image of Your Body a much better record.

Bill Meyer
December 2006