At the late set last Tuesday, she played mainly her own compositions—lovely slow ballads and rousing up-tempo ditties, all teeming with wit and verve and a dash of whimsy. I’ve been watching her for a few years now (she plays regularly at Barbes, a small club in my Brooklyn neighborhood), and she just keeps getting better. Her writing is more complex yet no less straightforward; that is, there’s more going on in the harmonies and rhythms, but they’re so well integrated with the melody and mood, you wouldn’t know it. Her playing is more fluent, her improvisations more adventurous, her leaps more seamless.
Many of the songs she played come from her new CD, Crossing the Field (Koch), which features Moran, guitarist Bill Frisell, and a string orchestra. It’s a terrific album, though I must say the massed strings round off the music’s edges; I prefer the leaner quartet and some of her earlier albums, especially 12 Songs and Shalagaster. The sonics are excellent on all her albums,