Gerardo Maza,
Grain of Sand
(Earth Wave, 1998)

Grain of Sand is promoted as "world fusion music." A glance at the list of musicians and instruments indicates that this is an accurate category for this CD. It combines a wide range of styles to achieve the "fusion" of the sounds of the world.

The first piece in this collection, "Inspiration," has an eerie overall effect. It was not anything I could put my finger on. No portion of the composition stood out as causing this effect, but when you combine the background vocals with the lead guitar, it just seems eerie.

The second piece, "Sky Pilot," elevates your mood and settles you with its light, lively beat. The guitar work is fantastic, with a Spanish style. This combines with a percussion that is reminiscent of the Caribbean. By the end, you will have shaken off the eeriness of the opening piece and will be ready for the cymbals and drums that open "Reflections." The violin puts you back into a great mood. But the vocals are just plain weird! They fail description and seem more like wails than singing. "Amor Divino" introduces a layered chant and drums that seem straight out of the Congo.

And so this collection goes, manipulating your emotions and pulse. It is a "fusion" of all things, yet lacking any solid description. It can only be categorized as world music. It is definitely not an unpleasant listening experience, but be prepared for the rollercoaster. There is much talent displayed throughout the selections. The percussion is especially noteworthy; I loved the variety of sounds and techniques. The bass is also nice.

Gerardo Maza plays keyboards, guitars, fahringer, percussion, nal and bells, as well as vocals. He is joined in this collection by Hamid Drake (drums, djembe, tablas), Van Manakas (lead guitar, oud, violin), Mike Todd (bass), Elisa Street (vocals), Tom Q (guitars, vocals), Matthew Brown (ney), Ali Rahman (vocals, setar), Michael Harrison (vocals, tamboura) and Sheikha Fariha (vocals).

"Reflections" and "Grain of Sand" include text and poetry by Hafiz. "Setar Solo" was created and is performed by Ali Rahman. "Love Song" has vocals written and performed by Sheikha Fariha. "Time Line" has a traditional chant to Shiva and the most outstanding percussion of the entire collection. This percussion is killer!

My overall opinion of this CD is that it is skillfully composed and executed, but not anything that I would listen to on a frequent basis. I recognize the talent of the musicians and praise them for their work, but it is simply too emotionally charged for me. Each time I get pepped back up, it pulls me down again. I found "Weather Change" to be especially depressing -- much worse than any cold, dreary, foggy day. However, I must admit that I am much more emotionally sensitive to music than the average person. My mood follows what I hear and I actually "feel" music. So you might love this collection.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 30 August 2003