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Kaisa’s Machine: Taking Shape


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Kaisa’s Machine: Taking Shape
On her captivating second release, Taking Shape, Finnish bassist Kaisa Mäensivu demonstrates her singular talents as a composer and a bandleader. She is again at the helm of her cohesive group, Kaisa's Machine. It has been six years since her debut, years during which she established herself in her new hometown of New York. Her writing has transformed as she draws inspiration from the vibrancy of the city on this set of originals.

Mäensivu sets the album's mood with a 40-second lithe and elegant intro after which she leads the ensemble on the effervescent and soulful "Floating Light." The exciting tune also features award winning tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Pennicott echoes guitarist Max Light's intriguing refrains which embellish the main theme and set the stage for the latter's eloquent improvisation. Pennicott himself takes center stage with his muscular and acerbic lines before the concluding head.

Mäensivu's own intelligent and intricate extemporization bisects "Dream Machine" as it is preceded by pianist Eden Ladin's cool crisp solo and is followed by Pennicott's passionate one. Drummer Joe Peri closes the performance with thunderous beats amid delightfully riotous ensemble play. Another guest musician is rising star, vibraphonist Sasha Berliner whose resonant and sparkling mallets balance Ladin's shimmering notes on this track. Berliner and her vibraphone also "replace" Ladin and his keys as the chordal instrument on the mellifluous "Gravity."

Ladin's unaccompanied pianism, with its warm and melancholic lines, forms the third interlude on the recording which dovetails into the dramatic "Shadow Mind." This piece unfurls slowly within a tense and cinematic atmosphere. Light's incandescent guitar strings flicker against Mäensivu and Peri's dark, rumbling, vamps. Ladin improvises with lyricism while Mäensivu's reverberating phrases are pure poetry. The inner camaraderie within the quartet is demonstrated clearly here as one individual expression fades into the next and the music flows seamlessly from the collective to each band member and vice versa.

Refreshingly inventive, Taking Shape demonstrates that Mäensivu is an accomplished musician with a uniquely creative voice. It also showcases a mix of exuberance and maturity. It is an engaging work which portends a brilliant career.

Track Listing

I; Floating Light; Dream Machine; Gravity; Aurora Unbound; II; Better Intention; Sink or Swim; III; Shadow Mind; Sizzler; Eat Dessert First.


Kaisa Mäensivu: bass; Max Light: guitar, electric; Eden Ladin: piano; Joe Peri: drums; Tivon Pennicott: saxophone, tenor; Sasha Berliner: vibraphone.

Album information

Title: Taking Shape | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Greenleaf Music

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