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María Grand Reflects on First-Time Motherhood on New Album 'Reciprocity'

The album will be released on May 14, 2021.

María Grand Reflects on First-Time Motherhood on New Album 'Reciprocity'

Following up her highly acclaimed 2018 Biophilia Records debut Magdalena ("a constant flow of ideas, serene and deftly paced" - New York Times), tenor saxophonist, composer and vocalist María Grand returns with a bold second outing for Biophilia, Reciprocity. It presents music that Grand wrote and recorded at a pivotal time in her life, in early 2020 when she was five and a half months pregnant with her son, Ayní.

On one level, Reciprocity speaks to the mother-child bond, something Grand felt already forming as she set out with her indispensable trio mates, bassist Kanoa Mendenhall and drummer Savannah Harris. No doubt, Reciprocity also pertains to the vibrant rapport of these players as they delve into Grand's music, so rich in melodic expression, complex kinetic rhythm and cagey formal logic.

"On tour while I was pregnant he would dance when we played with Savannah and Kanoa," Grand recalls of Ayní in her liner notes. "He would kick and jump around and we became a quartet for a while. It makes me smile to think of the many times he was onstage inside my womb while we were both transforming and growing." That loving, welcoming energy pervades the recording session as well.

Magdalena, the follow-up to Grand's 2018 debut EP Tetrawind, "was about compositions and different textures," Grand explains. "Reciprocity is the bare trio. I felt that right now, this is my band, this is who I want to play the whole album with," says Grand. "The way our voices mix is something I thought really needed a whole record, not just a few songs and then adding other people. We've played together a lot and we really have something, and that's what I wanted to deepen on this record."

Seven tracks on Reciprocity are from a suite of "Creation" compositions that Grand undertook in the two months before the session. They are inspired by myriad concepts from the shapeshifting character of stem cells to the sefirot and Tree of Life of Kabbalah mysticism. Throughout there is a play between the abstract and concrete, involving elevated trio conversation as well as sung melodies and lyrics. On the deeply funky "Now, Take, Your, Day" we hear the voices of all three trio members, a sound that Grand was eager to explore ever since she heard Mendenhall and Harris sing during soundchecks on tour.

The idea for the two-part "Fundamental" first came to Grand while participating in sound healing ceremonies. The title alludes to fundamental truths, to natural laws - the solstice, for instance, when after the darkest night, the days get longer. Grand also cites lines from Khalil Gibran's The Prophet: "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?"

Grand and the trio also interpret the mesmerizing "Canto Manta" by Venezuelan singer Jesús Hidalgo, whose work in medicine ceremonies and sound healings has served as an inspiration. "It's a whole different function for music," Grand says. "I've sung this song for a few years but in small settings like meditations or praying in sweat lodges. I wanted to start bridging these different functions for music, which is difficult because it feels like two completely different worlds. But I felt it was important to start doing that."

Born in Switzerland in 1992 to a Swiss mother and Argentinian father, Grand moved to New York in 2011 and became a mentee of greats such as Billy Harper, Antoine Roney, Von Freeman, Doug Hammond and Steve Coleman. She has become an important member of the city's creative music scene, performing extensively in projects led by or including musicians such as Nicole Mitchell, Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Mary Halvorson, Rajna Swaminathan, Jen Shyu and Fay Victor. Her album Magdalena was named #6 Top Jazz Album of 2018 by Billboard. She was also named Best New Artist of 2018 in the JazzTimes Readers Poll and Best Newcomer Musician in the 11th Annual El Intruso Critics Poll. According to JazzTimes, Grand "uses her tenor saxophone like a truth-illuminating candle, her haunting lines exploring every crevice of her equally somber and arresting compositions."

Please visit María Grand's recently launched Patreon at patreon.com/mariakimgrand.

Reciprocity will be released by Biophilia Records as a Biopholio™, a double-sided, 20-panel origami-inspired medium bursting with vibrant artwork and liner notes; each one made entirely out of FSC-certified, robust paper, hand-folded and printed using plant-based inks. In each Biopholio™ is a unique code to digitally download the music in the preferred format. This innovative design caters to the environmentally conscious listener, who is aware of the harmful effects of plastic in the environment, yet feels that a digital download is just not enough. Biophilia's artists are united by a common interest in having a positive impact on the environment and our communities. To that end, they collaborate with organizations that specialize in conservation, sustainability and outreach initiatives.

Photo Credit: Carolina Mama


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