(Outside In Music)

The island country of Sri Lanka is renowned for its natural abundance, boasting 24 natural reserves and a terrific variety of flowering plants. Drummer and composer Rajiv Jayaweera, who was born in London and grew up there and in Melbourne, Australia, takes inspiration from the beauty of his Sri Lankan ancestral homeland on Pistils (Outside In), his debut release as a leader. Having earned his Masters in Jazz Studies at SUNY Purchase, New York, in 2013, Jayaweera has since played at some of New York City’s top jazz clubs and has recorded with Cyrille Aimée, Lara Bello and Rotem Sivan, among others. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that he was able to recruit A-list players for his first recording, including vocalist Bello, saxophonist Chris Cheek, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Sam Anning and guitarist and fellow Ozzie, Hugh Stuckey. The album begins and ends with readings of the evocative title track, a gorgeous mood piece interpreted two different ways by the ensemble. The first version, our selection, begins with a gentle delicacy not unlike the plant part for which it’s named, Parks and Cheeks playing softly, as Jayaweera’s brushes rustle like a soft wind across his drum head. Bello’s wordless vocals communicate a great depth of emotion, and Anning and Stuckey step as lightly as their cohorts while weaving additional colors into the tapestry.

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