“The general theme [of the CD] is looking deeper, beyond the surface,” says Neckam. “But it’s also a lot about communication and breaking through the walls of perception, your own perception and someone else’s.”
Neckam is backed by a sensitive and swinging cast, featuring pianist and label-mate Aaron Goldberg, bassist Thomas Morgan, saxophonists Lars Dietrich and Samir Zarif, and drummer Colin Stranahan. “Lars and Samir are my best friends,” Neckam says, “Lars and I came to New York at the same time to study at Manhattan School of Music, which is where we met Samir. Thomas Morgan is also one of my best friends and the first bass player I played with here in NYC. I met Aaron at a Kurt Rosenwinkel (one of my heroes) show and soon after he came to one of my gigs. Colin was the last to join the band, and this recording was actually one of the first times we played together, because he was doing the Monk Institute and lived in New Orleans at the time. He is an extremely musical drummer, who really cares about the music and can react to different situations instantly … I am very fortunate to have a rhythm section that cares a lot about the lyrics. It often surprises me how well they know the words.”
Neckam and her simpatico band work their moving and moody magic on her ten self-penned selections that weave through the sentiments of love, acceptance, loss and relationships. The title track opens and closes the CD in marvelous mid-tempo mode, contrasted by two Latin-tinged tracks; the soaring “Fear” and the soothing “Blown Away,” and the buoyant backbeats on “Happy Song” “Learn My Tongue” and the Monkish, trip-hop number “Missing You.” On the heartbreaking “I Remember,” dedicated to her first love, Neckam is joined by vocalist Peter Eldridge in an impassioned choir-like elegy.
Neckam’s lithe and lyrical vocals purr and penetrate, swoop and swoon in a wide variety of tones, timbres and styles. Such fluidity comes easy to her, because of her varied musical education. Born in Vienna – a city with a rich, musical history – she grew up listening to opera, jazz, musicals, Indian music, rock and punk. She taught herself piano, guitar and bass, sang in a city choir and performed in a local band, Sounds of Silence. She graduated Conservatory of Amsterdam and entered Manhattan School of Music in 2005, where she studied with Luciana Souza, Peter Eldridge and Indian tabla player, Samir Chatterjee, graduating in May 2007. In addition to Neckam’s drum-n-bass group, Mia Thought And Something Happened (mtash), she’s worked with wide variety of artists including: The Mahavishnu Project, Dan Weiss, Jon Cowherd, Miles Okazaki, Matt Penman, Jeff Ballard, Mike Moreno, Aaron Parks, Will Vinson, and Jonathan Kreisberg. Her first jazz project, Maryland (CD Baby), was released in 2006, and Das Worterbuch, with Finnish pianist Mika Pohjola (Blue Music Group), was released in 2009.
Deeper represents Maria Neckam’s intimate journey to the center of herself. “The music of this album represents my quest to cross stylistic lines and create something authentic, which has to be unique and touching, if it is truly authentic,” she says. “I want to touch people’s hearts and minds and inspire them to go out and do the same, find their own uniqueness and treasure it.”