Throughout the history of jazz there has always seem to be two camps, one camp maintains a discriminatory dividing line between vocalists and instrumentalists. Vocalist are not always viewed as equals with instrumentalist. Unfortunately, vocalists are stigmatized as not possessing the same time sense, improvisatory skills, and instrument control. However, this has thankfully been changing as of late. Furthermore, there is a continually growing number of artists that are both vocalists and instrumentalist. Saxophonist, vocalist, composer, and educator María Grand finds herself in the latter category and is pushed forward with her release, TetraWind.
The Switzerland born Grand enlisted the aid of Román Filiú
on alto saxophone (tracks 2,3,4) and flute (track 1), David Bryant
on keyboards, Rashaan Carter
on electric bass and Craig Weinrib
on drums. She is a regular member of free funk/avant-garde jazz drummer, composer, poet, producer and professor Doug Hammond
's Quintet and of mridangam artist and scholar Rajna Swaminathan
's RAJAS. She also performs with Grammy Award winner Román Filiú
in his groups Ouroboros and Quartería. Grand can be heard on Steve Coleman
's latest and critically acclaimed album, Synovial Joints
. As one would expect from reading the before mentioned names, Grand's music is experimental and full of freedom. For her setting, she composed four compositions that make up TetraWind
that offer's the listener a socially conscience message.
"North (Self. Real Power)" combines her vocals and playing, able to touch on high points on both with ardent emotions, and equal success. Her vocals are airy and sweet, her saxophone sound warm, robust and focused. Grand is up to the challenge of thriving in both camps. The saxophonist and her quartet are able to accentuate the intrinsically melodic and lyrical qualities in her singing, playing and group work. The secret beauty in Grand's music is, it balances an edgier sound with relaxed subtleties. Her vocal melody might remind one of something Mingus might of wrote and her saxophone solo is full of freedom and fire.
The playlist is eclectic, as one might expect, Grand uses electronic effects on her voice on "West (Shut Sun)." The funky feel seems to inspire everybody from guest alto saxophonist Filiú to Carter's ever moving bass sonorities. Grand and Filiú share the solo space in a musical manner and always reference each other in one way or another, the music is bathed with civility, gorgeousness, and, on occasion, passionate flurries.
Grand really shows us many angles on "East (Land of the Living)." Her saxophone playing is full of passion and sophisticated phrases and turns. Through every one of those turns, the band is right there with her, exploring every musical incident with the utmost respect for the overall flow of the music and the contributions of one another.
Understatement is not the theme on "South (Quantum)." The composition serves as a source of inspiration and strength in its heavy groove feel. Filiú's contribution is as strong as before. Bryant's solo is full of musical lure that elicits an incredibly strong emotional response. Grand's solo is driving and delivered with poise. After a brief interlude, the groove is dropped and a mood of vulnerability is established. Grand and Bryant carry on as a duet, with Grand playing over Bryant's rumbling chords. Grand shows her talents as a poet during this section, the spoken voice low in the mix as not to distract from the flow of the music, but none the less, it is still effective in eliciting emotion. TetraWind
is an ambitious outing for Grand as she equally established herself in both jazz camps. Exquisiteness becomes these musicians, as they carry the torch of youth with grace to the future of jazz with their own inimitable upward turn.
East (Land of the Living); North (Self: RealPower); West (Shut Sun); South (Quantum).
Maria Grand: voice (tracks 2, 3, and 4), tenor saxophone; Román Filiú: alto saxophone (tracks 2, 3, 4), flute (track 1) and flute; David Bryant: keyboards; Rashaan Carter: electric bass; Craig Weinrib: drums.