When I reviewed Heard’s four-song EP, “Adhiambo,” earlier this year, I remarked that the more classically influenced instrumental “La Lluvia” didn’t seem to quite fit in with the other three songs on the disc.
Heard’s full-length debut – which features the four tunes from the EP as well as five more tracks – solves that problem perfectly.
The nimble, lilting fusion of jazz, classical and world music strikes a delicate balance with a subtle shifting of musicians throughout the disc. Some tracks – like “La Lluvia” and the traditional “Mbizerere” from Zimbabwe – feature only two or three musicians. Others – including the welcoming title track – feature six or seven musicians, each contributing marvelous music to the mix.
The percussion of Brian Melick and Zorkie Nelson lays the foundation for the musical journey, but never overpowers the strong melodic flow that composer-pianist Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius has crafted. While Heard’s music also features cellos, guitar, mandolin, bass, flute and more, the other primary voice on this disc is the clarinet (and on the opening and closing tracks, the tenor saxophone) of Jonathan Greene, which interweaves throughout in counterpoint to the piano.
Recorded at Cotton Hill Studios and produced by Stu Kuby, this is beautiful, beautiful stuff – music that draws inspiration in equal parts from Chopin and Bill Evans, African folk songs and Brazilian sambas.