"Maja" refers to pianist and composer Maja Alvanović, "misty" is a nod to Erroll Garner, one of her influences. Love is the second album from the trio, based in Novi Sad, Serbia. The trioAlvanović, bassist Ervin Malina and drummer Istvan Cikare superb players. Alvanović is melodic, crafting single note runs that are gentle, percussive, romantic in turn. Cik is a positive, economical, drummer and the imaginative Malina is particularly strong on arco bass. The combination of their playing and the pianist's compositions has produced another dazzling album.
Four tracks feature guests, leaving six tunes performed by the Trio on its own. Of the trio outings, "Bloomin'" is irresistibly cheery, Cik's drums jumping and skipping beneath Alvanović's sparkling piano lines (Alvanović closes with a few bars of "Blue Moon"'s familiar theme). The flowing melody of "Careless Moment," co-written by Alvanović and Vesna Grčić) mixes melancholy with a sense of forward movement. "Coolah Trance" (written by Alvanović and guest vocalist Aleksandra Drobac) switches between upbeat positivity and high dramathe switchover announced by the arrival of Malina's arco bass and the disappearance of Cik's percussive click and clack. Malina's soft-toned and fluid pizzicato bass is at the core of "Suddenly Japan," a slow burner of a tune that threatens to break out at any time, yet retains its ultimately unresolved tension throughout.
Drobac guested on Mistyland and returns for four songs on Love. Her most distinctive appearance is on "Little Cosy Keysy House." Her weird, wordless, vocal lends an other-wordly vibe to Alvanović's bright, endearing, melody. On a bright, sunny day this eccentric song sounds cheerful and happyon a wet and stormy night the strangeness might seem much darker.
Three songs find the trio augmented by additional instrumentalists. On "Rain Dots" percussionist Uroš Šecerov joins the band in support of Drobac's sprightly (and spritely) vocala friendlier and more comforting other worldliness than the one she creates on "Little Cosy Keysy House." On "Mustard Fields" Gisle Torvik's guitar and Bunford Gabor's alto saxophone add depth and tonal variation to the front line while Uroš Šecerov adds understated percussion to the rhythm section. Alvanović and Drobac contribute wordless vocals, matching Alvanović's piano melody. The result is, like "Careless Moment," melancholy: but this theme seems to resolve to a more hopeful ending. For the album's title track Drobac is joined by Alvanović, Cik and Malina on vocals and by Damir Bacikin, whose eloquent muted trumpet has immediate impact, setting the mood for this intense and sensitive tune.
Mistyland (Self Produced, 2012) was a five star debut. Love is the sound of a composer who's becoming ever more ambitious and a band that's growing in confidence. It's a five-star second album, with some of the loveliest melodies of the year.