Gratifyingly shorn of any of the clichés you usually encounter on a ''spiritual jazz'' harp record Passing By is something of a breath of fresh air from relative newcomer harpist Maria-Christina Harper here with ex-Neil Cowley drummer Evan Jenkins and saxophonist Josephine Davies - the latter in particularly fine form - alongside. Tunes are easy to latch on to - a touch of psychedelia enhances 'In Cairo / Grandma's Coat' and you get plenty of flow in the lead harp lines from the Greek-born Harper who has Egyptian roots. The album was very cleanly engineered by James McMillan at his south coast studio and you get a real sense of immediacy particularly in the saxophone lines on 'Safe Place'. A pleasant surprise of an album full of Harper's excellent, reliably soothing, tunes.
- Hear the Harper trio on Thursday 2 November in the Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room