Athens born Grapsa beautifully fuses her classical background, her love of modern jazz plus her Greek roots, middle eastern and latin influences.
Musical Dojo Records
Maria Grapsa – Piano, compositions; Becca Wilkins – Vocals; Matthew Kilner – Tenor sax; Liam Brennan – Alto sax; Kai Chareunsy – Drums; Tommy Fuller – Double bass; Emma Rawicz – Tenor sax (track 7); Tom Pountney – Guitar (track 9); Torin Davies – Guitar (track 9);
The UK’s jazz scene is a melting pot of cultures and pianist Maria Grapsa has added her music to the mix with her debut album LIFE. Athens born Grapsa beautifully fuses her classical background, her love of modern jazz plus her Greek roots, middle eastern and latin influences.
Grapsa put together a sextet made up of some of the country’s rising jazz stars; most of whom attended the Royal Conservatoire of Birmingham. Matthew Kilner on tenor sax and Liam Brennan on alto, clarinet, and bass clarinet both attended Birmingham. Emma Rawicz didn’tl but I still love her tenor sax appearance on ‘Life.’
She plays quietly on top of Grapsa’s piano and Wilkin’s vocals. Then her solo has this Coltrane intensity but she’s not copying anyone. She’s got her own voice and I’m sure we’re going to hear more great music from Rawicz.
Maria Grappa’s young nephew is heard talking at the beginning of ‘Childhood.’ The song feels like a Greek lullaby with Grappa’s lovely piano, Wilkin’s voice, and Liam Brennan on clarinet. It gets louder, a little more intense. The terrific rhythm section of Tommy Fuller’s bass and Kai Chareunsy’s drums are a fine driving force on all of LIFE.
London based singer Becca Wilkins sings on four of the tunes. Her occasionally childlike voice reminds me of Blossom Dearie. Her voice is quite pleasant except when she strains to hit notes that might be out of her range. There’s a part of ‘Palace On The Hill ’where her voice sounds sharp.
Wilkins wrote all the lyrics for her vocals. She sounds great on ‘Circus Lane.’ This song has Liam Brennan playing the bass clarinet. The “woodiness” of the instrument is a lovely compliment to Wilkin’s voice.
Twin guitars show up on ’Anna Back.’ Tom Pountney and Torin Davies add some psychedelic reverb to Grapsa’s propulsive pop piano and Matthew Kilner’s imposing tenor. There’s a lot of great saxophone on this album. Kilner’s tenor and Brennan’s alto harmonize beautifully and their solo work is very impressive.
Maria Grapsa’s a smart lady. She received a masters in environmental engineering but decided to devote her life to music instead. She composed all the music on LIFE, a very impressive debut. I look forward to hearing more terrific music from Maria.