Ugly Beauties

(Ambiances Magnétiques)

Rating: NNNN

Pianist Marilyn Lerner is the best-known member of this trio, but drummer Nick Fraser and cellist Matt Brubeck also have substantial, impressive resumés that span a wide range of styles. Lerner has made a career of jumping nimbly between klezmer, jazz, improv and modern classical music, all while balancing a flair for experimentation with a love of melody, which should give you some idea of where Ugly Beauties fall on the musical spectrum.


There’s a mixture of group improvisations and individual compositions by all three members. Although Lerner makes the greatest contribution, the album is more about the interplay between the musicians and their effortless improvising. They’re all creative players, and at moments they whip up such a storm of strange textures and tones that you forget you’re listening to just three acoustic instruments. Happily, those experimental tendencies are offset by strong compositions and melodies, so they never descend into the tuneless racket some associate with improvised music.

Top track: Oubliette

Ugly Beauties play Gallery 345 Friday (March 12).

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