This is an album that will reveal more with each successive listening.

Little Yellow Man Records

Maria-Christina Harper (electro-acoustic Harp, effects, composition); Josephine Davies (soprano & tenor saxophone); Evan Jenkins (drums)

This is an intriguing and at times starkly beautiful album from the Harper Trio. If jazz harpists are hardly two a penny, then electro-acoustic harpists are an even rarer breed, and I must admit to approaching this album not really knowing what to expect.

The resulting an album is an absorbing mixture of improvisation, melody, texture, with a hint of electronica for good measure. The trio seem to set up their own rules of play and then delight in breaking them and confounding expectations.

Broadly speaking, Maria-Christina Harper provides the textural and sonic backdrop and drummer Evan Jenkins provides subtle rhythmic shadings in response to the harp.

This leaves Josephine Davis free to play the melodies, and this she does with a lyricism and a degree of flexibility that permits for brief improvisations that fit organically within Maria-Christina’s open structured compositions.

The process described above lends one to think that this maybe a set of well paced pieces that can float wherever the musicians lead them, and to degree this is true.

However, the trio also have a kick to them when required and “In Cairo/Grandma’s Coat” is a brash and powerful composition that is fuelled by Evan Jenkins drumming and provides a solid platform for an expansive solo from the saxophonist.

Playing mostly tenor saxophone, Josephine Davies brings her warm and big toneto bear in a most spectacular manner. Her presence on “Safe Place” is utterly compelling, with her tenor moving from a pure tone to warm and comforting before splitting notes and introducing a controlled and subtle use of multiphonics in a heartbeat.

The title track maintains a sense of calm with Jenkins’s use of brushes setting up a wonderful platform for both harp and soprano saxophone to bask in.

The melody unfolds slowly, and Davies’s use of long notes give the music an unhurried feel. The interplay between saxophone and harp is allowed to flourish is a most agreeable manner, and a real highlight of the album.

Lightening up the mood significantly is the delightful “Castle Hill Road” that has a dual role for the harpist in an underlying electronic bass drone that contrasts with the delicate and lyrical accompaniment provided by Maria-Chrsitina in which Davies’s tenor adds an ambiguous line across the top.

In concert it is easy to imagine that this composition could go anywhere and should the moment dictate go to a darker place than is heard here.

Closing the set is charismatic “Standing Alone” with its solitary opening from the harp prior to the entry of the tenor. However, it is the harp that dominates this composition and quietly demands to be heard.

The music played by the Harper Trio is as diverse as one would expect given Maria-Christina’s Greek upbringing and Egyptian roots, and the music is not given to jumping out at the listener but requires a little patience to fully appreciate the subtly of the music. This is an album that will reveal more with each successive listening.