Kety Fusco, harp. Universal Music Italia srL. (Sugar), 2020.
Swiss Italian performer and composer Kety Fusco tells us that her entire life has been consumed by harp since the age of six when she first put her fingers to the strings. But when she ventures outside of the bubble of music, it’s an “emotional and physical shock” of withdrawal, overwhelmed by life’s demands. To manage, she does what any great artist would do and puts her feelings right back into her work. This is the genesis of her tour-de-force debut album, Dazed. Classically informed, but with a foray into the experimental, the album features her more recent success as an electric harpist, using loop machines and synthesizers to create a wondrous landscape of distant lands, like in “Medusah” with its mesmerizing beat and microtones. “Chevalier” is lighter than air, as if the running lines are running just above the ground; with just a taste of a rhythmic counterpoint, the music builds to a satisfying release. A favorite is “Saceba” beginning with a groove that sounds as if coming from the club next door followed by a tapestry of sound that could only be a soundtrack for a dream, an escape from reality, a trip through the mind. Wrapping it all up is the title track, a primal scream but one with a wink and the furious freedom on the dance floor.
Aurélie Barbé, harp. Self-released, 2020.
For the past couple of years, French harpist Aurélie Barbé has been exploring the many facets of the electronic world, including the use of effect pedals and instrumental playing modes. But what you notice from the driving funk of the title track on her new disc Terralone, is this is no intellectual exercise. Through a haze of sound effects, dizzying colors, a brilliant drumming track programmed by Fabien Saussaye, as well as some killer old-school Wurlitzer, her latest project is sure to hit the sweet spot for both those who love the traditional and those who want a taste of something altogether new. Favorites include Arctic, a lyrical melody punctuated by the wind and ice of a poet’s imagination; Space Trip is one part The B-52’s with a side of Bach invention; while Balafuzz showcases Barbé’s skill at combining unusual sounds into a psychedelic pulse.
Tasha Smith Godinez, harp. Ennanga Records, 2020.
Tasha Smith Godinez’s Harp CHICK comes at an apt moment just as we’ve lost one of the jazz world’s greatest musicians, Armando “Chick” Corea. Each work is lovingly arranged and performed providing a fresh vibrancy to a style of performance that was already new and invigorating in its day. Standouts include a dreamy rendition of perhaps Corea’s most well-known hit “Spain” featuring vocalist and cajonist Leonard Patton valiantly enunciating every syllable in his dulcet baritone, adding a secret sauce when he scats. Godinez highlights Corea’s classical roots—along with his vast technical prowess—in seven selections from Children’s Songs. As if to express gratitude for all that Corea gave us, Godinez is at her most heartfelt in the Satie-esque ballad, “Where Have I Known You Before.” •