Reciprocity (Biophilia Records)

María Grand

Released May 14, 2021

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2021




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.

Track Listing:

1. Creation: The Joy Of Being 05:48

2. Whabri 05:33

3. Creation: A Home In Mind 06:19

4. Fundamental Pt. I 02:01

5. Fundamental Pt. II 04:51

6. Creation: Ladder of Swords 03:45

7. Prayer 02:25

8. Creation: Interlude 02:36

9. Now, Take, Your, Day 04:11

10. Creation: Superbear 03:32

11. Creation: Matrescence 03:08

12. Canto Manta 03:55

13. Creation: Welcome, Starseed 06:14


María Grand: tenor saxophone and voice
Kanoa Mendenhall: acoustic bass and voice
Savannah Harris: drums and voice

Recorded in early 2020

Artwork: Zora Oberhänsli


At the start of tenor saxophonist and singer Maria Grand’s third solo album, 2021’s meditative Reciprocity, she repeats the phrase, “The joy of being exactly who I am.” The song, titled “Creation, The Joy of Being,” works as the album’s mantra, perfectly setting up the sacred, Zen-like vibe of what’s to follow. Recorded while Grand was five months pregnant with her son, Reciprocity is explicitly centered on themes of birth, renewal, and finding solace in the circular nature of our existence. It’s a fitting follow-up to her ambitious, concept-driven 2018 recording Magdalena. That album found her playing with a larger ensemble and using mythological and historical female icons, including the Egyptian goddess Isis, Mary (the mother of Jesus), and Mary Magdalene as symbols to explore societal notions of femininity, power, and trauma. Though no less ambitious, Reciprocity is more stripped down, showcasing her trio with bassist Kanoa Mendenhall and drummer Savannah Harris. Together, they play with a swirling, richly harmonic give-and-take that evokes the ’70s work of artists like Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. Thematically, Grand returns to the birth theme of the opening track on songs like “Creation, A Home in Mind,” “Creation, Ladder of Swords,” and “Creation, Matrescence.” While they are melodically distinct, the songs feel like an ongoing conversation or intense prayer that Grand returns to throughout the album. In between, she conjures yet more spiritual energies as on the two-part “Fundamental,” which features a spoken word piece over a thick, Eastern-influenced bass drone. Similarly, she multi-tracks her voice into a sparkling vocal choir on “Now, Take, Your, Day” before diving with her saxophone into the song’s dewy acoustic waves, outlining each harmonic crest with increasing intensity. A bold improviser with a warm, vocal-like saxophone tone, Grand plays with a gentle, yet commanding authority on Reciprocity, like a mother speaking to her child, or praying to god.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)