By James Hale | Published April 2021
Let’s address an elephant before moving forward: Some might find Anaïs Maviel’s ululating vocals an unwelcome distraction. There’s no doubt her pitch-bending gymnastics, much like Yoko Ono’s, will not be to everyone’s taste. But look past her extreme expression, and Brooklyn-based pianist Mara Rosenbloom’s latest album reveals enormous tenderness.
Maviel’s primary contributions here are on two pieces that draw from the poetry of Adrienne Rich, including “I Know What I Dreamed: Our Flyway,” a 36-minute epic exploration of the second of the writer’s seminal 21 Love Poems. Beginning with the deceptively benign situational statement, “I wake up in your bed,” the piece divides roughly into five parts that arc across a range of expression. Even at the piece’s most visceral moments, Maviel keeps your attention because of her unwillingness to hold back and an ability to use extended vocal techniques with precision. The fragmented nature of “I Know What I Dreamed” doesn’t play well to the melodic development Rosenbloom and bassist Rashaan Carter display elsewhere, but they create effective tension throughout. The second Rich-themed piece, “Dream Of A Common Language: Irruption,” is more ruminative, building from Rosenbloom’s simple phrase, yet no less abstract. The bandleader concludes by combining a charming piano miniature and a slow, spare interpretation of “These Foolish Things.” At its end, Flyways: Murmuration is as restful as its most excited moments are alarming.
Flyways: Murmuration: Improvised Prelude: Greetings; Bird Migration Theme 2: Take Off; I Know What I Dreamed: Our Flyway; Dream Of A Common Language: Irruption; Bird Migration Theme 1: Murmuration; Bird Migration Theme 2 Reprise: Landing; Little Chick; These Foolish Things: For Connie Crothers, With Love. (53:57)
Personnel: Mara Rosenbloom, piano; Rashaan Carter, bass; Anaïs Maviel, vocals, surdo drum.