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Conjure is the second release from Balance, the duo of composer/musicians Michael Malis and Marcus Elliot, two of Detroit’s rising stars from the younger generation in creative music. Both musicians work in numerous groups together and with a wide variety of artists, from consummate jazz artists like James Carter and Marcus Belgrave to electronic act Shigeto and experimental drummer /improviser William Hooker. Conjure aptly displays Balance's contemporary point of view, mixing reverence for their forebears with open ears that allow for all kinds of influences to inform the music. Though the record primarily features the duo, Balance is also joined by poet Chace Morris and drummer Gerald Cleaver — two Detroiters of note in their own right — for a few tracks. Conjure finds the musicians in a largely meditative, introspective mood. Lyrical melodies and fugue like passages adorn compositions that reflect an interest in chamber music, but the spirit of improvisation flows through every piece. The serene mood is occasionally contrasted with more urgent ideas, like the rumbling piano accompanying Chase’s recitation during the opening title track, or the driving freedom of “MRA.” Demonstrating that the musicians aren’t limited to modal jazz and sound-based playing, the album closes with Number Four, the enigmatic hard bop swinger by legendary Detroit drummer and composer Lawrence Williams. It seems that Balance’s conjuring can manifest the sounds of a disappearing past as well as a vision of the future.

1 Conjure*
2 Leap Year
3 Pathways
4 MRA**
5 9/24
6 Possible Futures
7 Serpent’s Serpent*
8 Number Four**
* Featuring Chace Morris
** Featuring Gerald Cleaver

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