In a mere decade composer and saxophonist Maria Grand established herself as a refreshingly singular voice on the creative music scene. Both as a side-woman and a leader, Grand has matured into an expressive artist with a fluid style and a warm tone. Her second full-length release, the enchanting Reciprocity, well demonstrates Grand's talents in a sparse trio setting.
Inspired by motherhood, the recording brims with an exalted joy. "Creation, Ladder of Swords" has a deep spiritual aura and a dramatic ambience. Into this, bassist Kanoa Mendenhall weaves dark reverberating lines while drummer Savannah Harris lays down an expectant groove with cymbal crashes and angular beats. Grand's vibrant tenor meanders contemplatively within her bandmates' cadence. As the tempo picks up, the ensemble performance evolves into a fiery repartee. The track is aptly followed by a celebratory song over haunting vamps, called "Prayer"
Similarly the two-part "Fundamental" opens with a collective vocal chant, which Harris' poignant percussion and Mendenhall's hypnotic con arco frame. The atmosphere is almost like a pagan mass. Grand blows muscular and passionate phrases as she builds a captivating improvisation. Mendenhall solos with breathtaking eloquence as Harris restlessly propels the piece to its haunting conclusion.
Similarly "Creativity: the Joy of Being" starts off with three voices reciting a single sentence like a mantra. Grand's melancholic, incandescent tenor yearns and simmers with emotion as Mendenhall and Harris deftly support and push the saxophonist's spontaneity to new heights. They are not, however, merely building a supportive rhythmic framework for Grand, each person is also extemporizing with consummate virtuosity. Three stylistically individual yet interdependent improvisations coalesce into a vibrant and multi-faceted gem of a tune. Indeed this sublime synergy within the group is apparent throughout the superb album.
Reciprocity is a stimulating, cohesive opus which showcases Grand's brilliance to its fullest. That Harris and Mendenhall also share Grand's aesthetic vision makes this work even more delightful and fascinating. It is a personal and intriguing statement from a uniquely talented musician.
Creation: The Joy of Being; Whabri; Creation: A Home In Mind; Fundamental Pt. I; Fundamental Pt. 2; Creation: Ladder of Swords; Prayer; Creation: Interlude; Now, Take, Your, Day; Creation: Superbear; Creation: Matrescence; Canto Manta; Creation: Welcome, Starseed.
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