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Jazz harp? Have I lost my mind? While the jury is still out on that one I can say that Carol Robbins innate lyrical sense and forward motion of melody places her work in a class by itself. Moraga is a natural progression from some of her previous work and explores some dynamic and rather organic collaborations that would be the same as planting a musical seed and watching it grow and then blossom throughout this recording. Robbins is a member of the Billy Childs' Jazz Chamber Ensemble and a two time Grammy nominee as well. To refer to this release as impressive would be the classic undersell as Robbins creates a stunning color pallet in this most unique of settings.
While jazz harp is certainly nothing new it is somewhat uncharted territory for this more traditionally based critic. Luckily one tune that I quickly locked in on is "The Sand Rover" which begins with a more free form improvisation and is followed by the intensity of the percolating bass line set up by Darek Oles. Free form yet oddly adhering to the form and functionality of the more post bop sound with which I am more closely following these days. Variety and challenging a musical comfort zone is indeed a good thing and Robbins gives a virtuoso performance on this piece alone. The Cole Porter standard "Everytime We Say Goodbye" is sublime. Intimate, reflective and indescribably gorgeous has Robbins and pianist Billy Childs creating a rare type of musical magic that is to be relished. They do not play the notes but instead make the music. "Straight Away" is a Robbins original with is an uptempo slightly blistering romp showcasing saxophonist Gary Meek. Bebop meets the unplugged chamber sextet with killer results. Childs slays this tune which again shows Robbins as a prolific composer.
Exquisite shadings of musical color played with intimacy, elegance and spirit. Carol Robbins is a virtuoso talent of special note and this is indeed a release to take the time to check out. Jazz aficionados that have a penchant for chamber music will be in pure heaven. An incredibly beautiful release worthy of 5 stars for mere creativity alone!
Tracks: Moraga; The Sand Rover; Three Rings; Dolore; Everytime We Say Goodbye; Hope In The Face Of Despair; Straight Away; Caminhos Cruzados; Rotadendron.
Personell: Carol Robbins: harp; Billy Childs: piano; Gary Meek: sax/clarinet; Larry Koonse: guitar; Darek Oles: bass; Gary Novak: drums.
Special Thanks To Jim Eigo at Jazz Promo Services!