The fresh musical voice more formally known as Maria Artemenko seems ready to seize her saxophone and make a splash. Building on some solid study and orchestra performance, she offers a solid and eclectic surprise, for the first time stepping out internationally on her own. Equal credit must go to LRK Trio as well and, here, it is a superb match. Art is certainly fortunate to collaborate with an established group whose chemistry inevitably out-cooks that of a group of session players. More importantly, their styles mesh like peanut butter and chocolate.
LRK's key characteristics are on display heregood humor, humility and a knack for seemingly making things groove effortlessly. Their amiable craziness is toned down just enough to match their partner here; Art isn't as much of a hyper-speed player, and her tone shows the smoothness of careful study and a simple expressiveness from the heart. "Flow" opens their collaboration with a delightful exercise in egalitarian interplay. Art establishes the tone, coasting sweetly on a flowing groove, then enjoys a too-brief dance with Evgeny Lebedev's piano before he steps up for a beautiful, cascading solo. Once they both drift back to the main pattern, the pianist takes over the main circular vamp while the rhythm players take their turn improvising around the beat instead.
There are other moments that get a bit tricky, if not obtuse, but the effortless-sounding groove factor and Art's lovely melodic leads help it all go down with a coating of sugar. It's not always sweet either; there's a suitably playful homage to a canine personality early on, which gets balanced out with a thoughtful elegy at album's end. It's stark and touching without dragging down the overall tone; most often Anesthesia defies its title with acute playfulness and smarts.
Often, little rhythmic skips and hops make it seem as if the foursome are playing with odd times even when they're (usually) not. For eclectic points, the parties also share an interest in playing with any sonic tone that might fit the moment. Floaty harp decorates a few of the tracks; elsewhere they dip a foot (or a whole leg) into light fusion, not quite qualifying as funk before drifting into off-the-wall psychedelic noise. Celeste and xylophone are not out of the question either. The quaint instrumentation infuses some warmth without losing the smarts. Gently simmering, or occasionally turning up the electric voltage, this pairing shows excitement and promise for all involved.
Flow; Lavanda's Dream (Dedicated to My Dog); 8th of November; Trees Speech; Painless; Take Him; Into the Sea (RIP My Sister Anya).
Masha Art: saxophone; Evgeny Lebedev: piano, keys, metalophone; Anton Revnyuk: bass, double bass; Ignat Kravtsov: drums, metalophone; Maria Kulakova: harp (1, 2, 5, 6, 7).
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