There's a wonderful sense of becoming, of exploration and playfulness on Minot, North Dakota-born pianist Brittany Anjou's debut recording. She crams so much talent and energy into the album's 10 songs that you wonder if she'll ever come up for air. Enamiĝo Reciprokataj (Esperanto for "reciprocal love") is the daring work of a 35-year-old visionary. Though Anjou sometimes seems about to spin off her piano seat, she's ultimately a channel, a portal, extending joy and exhilaration to anyone with ears to hear.
The press release accompanying this album cites Anjou's influences as Red Garland, Oscar Peterson, and McCoy Tyner, and yes, the spirits of all three do resound in her blaring block chords and intricate inner conversations. But there's also something of Keith Jarrett's instant melodies, the intimate touch-tone threads of Vince Guaraldi, and the grand madness of Dave Burrell. And that doesn't begin to cover the electronic treatments that occasionally underpin her two trios (bassist Greg Chudzik and drummer Nicholas Anderson; bassist Ari Folman-Cohen and New York mainstay drummer Ben Perowsky).
Melody flows through Anjou like the wind. On "Olive You," an obvious play on "All of You," she and her crew swing delicately with a dissonant edge; that leads to savage chords, a drum solo, and more swing. "Snuffaluffagas" is named for the Sesame Street character, another deceptively gentle swinger. "Flowery Distress" unrolls like a flight over landscapes known and unknown, all of them sparkling and wondrous. The closing "Reciproka Elektra" casts electronic gurgles as high-velocity tumbleweeds.
Brittany Anjou has worked with the Shaggs and founded the 25-member LARCENY (Lethal Activist Revival & Creative Enaction in New York) Chamber Orchestra. She continues to travel the world to study, to play, to learn. And we have much to learn from her.