ELIZABETH WOODBURY KASIUS
& HEARD - Karibu
by Jeff Waggoner
When the call came for someone to review Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius & Heard’s new CD Karibu, what immediately snagged me is that Kasius studied with one of my favorite musicians – the brilliant trombonist, Julian Priester.
I had to listen. The CD not what I expected from a disciple of Priester, but listening to Karibu, (which means “Welcome,” in Swahili) is a satisfying experience. And attentive listening is required. The music is so smooth and goes down so easily, the sounds can, if not attentive, fade into the background. But there’s just too much going on in Karibu to ignore.
Please, turn it on at night when you are winding down. If you have a nice single malt, pour it. Nothing too smoky or peaty. Try something citrusy with a touch of honey. It will pare well with Karibu.
The music is light and delicate. No hammer on the head here. And Kasius can’t be easily crammed into a category. Not straight up jazz. Not chamber music. The hints of West African and Brazilian rhythms aren’t overbearing.
Karibu is a blend of styles, which reflect the range of the half dozen musicians on the CD. Especially engaging is the bass clarinet and saxophone of Jonathan Greene, as well as the drumming of Brian Melick and Zorkie Nelson. The mandolin of John Ehlis adds a quirky touch. Rebecca Kleinmann (flutes), bassist John Menegon and Jeffrey Parker ( cello/bass) add their considerable talents, as well.
Aside from being a talented pianist and composer, Kasius teaches in the dance department at Russell Sage College and teaches yoga. Those disciplines obviously influenced her composition, as her music is melodic and mellow. It promotes movement as well as meditation.
The Albany area has a wealth of musical treasures that deserve greater notice and appreciation.
Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius & her group “Heard” are among those treasures.
Jeff Waggoner has written book, CD and concert reviews for publications such as Down Beat, Jazz Times, Blues Access and The New York Times.