At the crossroads of indie and world music arises an exciting and fresh collaboration where Grammy-nominated artist Becca Stevens is joining forces with the Middle Eastern art music masters, The Secret Trio.
Stevens is known for her exquisite compositions in a variety of styles, along with her work with Grammy Award-winning contemporary jazz instrumentalists Snarky Puppy. The Secret Trio – consisting of Ara Dinkjian on oud, Ismail Lumanovski on clarinet, and Tamer Pinarbasi on kanun – is one of the premier world music trios of the past 20 years, fusing microtonal melodies and improvisation from the Middle East and Balkans along with jazz, rock, classical and world folk music.
Stevens discovered The Secret Trio at the GroundUP Music Festival in 2019 and was in awe witnessing their flawless execution and emotive renditions of various compositions on the oud, kanun, and clarinet. Snarky Puppy songwriter Michael League had flown to Istanbul to see The Secret Trio perform at the Cemal Resit Rey concert hall – and he was so impressed that League invited the trio to play at the GroundUp Festival in Miami soon after. “I first saw The Secret Trio in Istanbul a couple of years ago (even though at the time we were all living in New York) and since then I’ve been obsessed with them- I don’t think I had ever heard virtuosity sound so musical,” said League.
“It is with extreme excitement that I get to announce my newest collaboration with The Secret Trio. The spark for this new project was lit during a late-night set at the GroundUp Music Festival in 2019. Michael League and I were in the audience that night marveling over the stunning beauty that is The Secret Trio. I think I cried through the whole set. I couldn’t believe that such beautiful music could exist. During the show percussionist, Jamey Haddad, noticed my reaction and leaned over and said “that’s your new band”, Stevens noted in a recent post on her Facebook page.
About one year later The Secret Trio and Stevens would find themselves making a record of original music at Big Orange Sheep in Brooklyn, written by League and Stevens and the members of The Secret Trio. (Produced by League, mixed by League & Nic Hard.)
“Working with the great singer/songwriter/musician Becca Stevens has broadened our musical vocabulary, and allows us to reach a new audience, who will hopefully be intrigued by our ethnic instruments, modes, and time signatures. Likewise, we are hoping to show our fans that, through musical collaboration and creativity, cultures and traditions can unite to create something truly new, yet seemingly right,” said the members of The Secret Trio.
“Becca Stevens and The Secret Trio have each established unique sounds and styles while finding their respective audiences, disparate as they may be. This collaboration marks a marriage of those cultures, audiences, and sonic landscapes; built upon mutual respect and masterful artistry. The colors of Becca’s voice and strings blend seamlessly with the eastern textures of the kanun, oud, and clarinet, resulting in a fresh yet ancient sound.”
Becca Stevens & The Secret Trio collaborative album will be released on GroundUp Music in September 2021.
Their first single, titled “The Eye,” was just released with a stunning video accompaniment, filmed & directed by David Goddard. You can watch the video on YouTube here:
The song features Middle Eastern influences of the oud and was inspired by a Macedonian poem name “The Eye” by Nikola Madzirov.
“I knew from the onset of this project that I wanted to incorporate Turkish & Macedonian poetry in my writing. Writing for “The Eye” started with an oud demo sent to me by Michael League. Mike’s original demo was titled “Crozish Oud” because he thought it sounded like something David Crosby would write on guitar. I listened to it on loop while searching online for “modern Macedonian poets” that I liked. I found Nikola Madžirov’s poetry and style really spoke to me. His poem ‘The Eye’ stopped me dead in my tracks. It had the right sentiment, color/mood/feeling, and length,” said Stevens.
You can listen to “The Eye” on your preferred streaming platform.