Maria Chiara Argirò (pronounced ma-REE-ah key-AH-rah r-gee-ROW) marks herself as an exciting new name in electronic, jazz-fusion. After quietly weaving her way around the UK jazz, classical and electronic worlds, the trained pianist (since the age of nine) has cemented herself as a key player in the capital’s multi-national jazz scene. Maria has released a few solo and collaborative records (Flow was The Guardian’s jazz album of the month and nominated as album of the year in the Jazz Revelations Awards), but her album, Forest City feels like the turning of a page as she liberates herself from the structures of jazz.
In Forest City, Maria finds a glistening thread between these movements: where jazz meets Kelly Lee Owens, Jon Hopkins and Radiohead. It’s a concept record, about the “duality of nature and city”, where organic sounds and textures seem to flow above the urban sprawl.
Maria had finished writing the album before the first lockdown but the enforced isolation helped to give the music a sense of urgency, a longing to be immersed in the natural world and the buzz of the city at the same time. The songs always start as something she can play acoustically, that would work without the bells and whistles, and then she layers the atmosphere around them.
Though the album has dark undertones, it’s not all doom and gloom: in her earthy metropolis, a certain optimism glows through. “It’s about being conscious of the world we live in and how careful we need to be,” Maria explains. “At the end of the day, there is hope”.