Becca Stevens & The Secret Trio

Becca Stevens & The Secret Trio
(GroundUp Music)

The story of vocalist and guitarist Becca Stevens’ collaboration with Balkan chamber music group The Secret Trio is one that encapsulates the jazz ethos of free-flowing improvisation. Having been deeply moved by the chance encounter of the trio’s performance at the GroundUp Festival, Stevens was determined to work with the instrumentalists to create a record that would combine their disparate musical traditions through the unifying principle of shared emotional responses.

The result is a deftly arranged and charmingly subtle collection of 10 compositions, parsing the trio’s woodwind and string combinations through Stevens’ propensity for folk-jazz songwriting.

Opener “Flow In My Tears” sets the tone, showcasing Stevens’ warm vocals against the backdrop of Ismail Lumanovski’s tender clarinet lines.

Tamer Pınarbaşı’s accompaniment on the fiendishly complicated, harp-like kanun is also artfully highlighted throughout the record, producing a melancholy cascade on “Pathways,” as well as a sprightly bounce on “Lucian.”

Stevens and The Secret Trio’s collaboration produces a fresh sound that also honors its roots. On standout tracks “Eleven Roses” and “California,” for instance, Stevens’ guitar seamlessly melds with Ara Dinkjian’s oud and Pınarbaşı’s kanun, while her vocal interweaves in harmony with Lumanovski’s clarinet, to produce a melismatic communion. It is a meditative exhalation brought about only by the meeting of kindred musical minds.